It feels odd to throw the word “applied” in front of ethnomusicology. That is, it seems natural enough for the implication to exist regardless of the prefix. Why is it that the applied sector needs to be separate from all-things-academic or “intellectual”…? They seem to go hand in hand – one flows out of the other, or so I’ve thought. If I were giving my own elevator speech, you know, the one-minute answer to the question, “What do you do?” I would never insert the word “applied,” even though I would definitely categorize my work that way in my head. There are too many implications to it – or maybe that’s in my head, too. Our work has an impact on the communities we study regardless of the final product. Not sure why this is on my mind today – the whole thing seems as silly as the supposed distinction between musicology and ethnomusicology.
I have been searching for hip-hop teaching resources, as well as academic journals outside of the ethno realm that an article on hip-hop would slide into. Along the way, I’ve found some pretty good resources and wanted to share. I’ll add these to my resources page as well, but if you know of any others, let me know!
Dagyap is a Tibetan hip-hop artist born and living in India. Just twenty-one years old, his real name is Sonam Chopel. He is known for releasing music that relates to the various problems that Tibetans face in exile. According to his facebook page, his influences are Jay Z, Tupac, the Game, and the Dalai Lama. That should give you a hint of what you are about to hear.
Dagyap has not responded to my requests for an interview, unlike some other Tibetans in the exiled music scene. Yesterday he released a new piece on YouTube called “Brothers on Fire,” and I wanted to use this post/his spotlight to discuss the piece. If you need some background on the recent immolations of several Tibetan monks/nuns, consider reading the following articles, and the video that follows in this post:
- Self-Immolation Fact Sheet [International Campaign for Tibet]
- Tibet Rocked by Wave of Self-Immolation [Independent]
I hate to include this video, but hold your breath and take a look [graphic warning]:
Now that you’re [hopefully] disgusted by this, and by your ignorance of its recent occurrence [13 times] in protest of the Chinese occupation, let’s take a look at Dagyap’s newest release, “Brothers on Fire” –
Before I continue, I’d like to mention [in case you aren’t aware] that as Marie Marshall recently said to me in another context, “The United States is in bed with China” – therefore nothing has/will be done about this via the United States. Tibet is virtually invisible in the American media, and our ridiculous relationship with China is the reason why (though with that said, the same ridiculous relationship may end up helping us face whatever is about to happen in North Korea as a result of Kim Jong Il’s death).
As you saw, the video opens with a salute for surviving the brutal Chinese mayhem. The lyrics are as follows:
(I had to type the lyrics into a text edit window and paste it as an image here – wordpress hates lyric formatting apparently)
This is musical expression that seeks to invoke change. This piece is framing an era, commenting on the current affairs of Tibetans while simultaneously reminding us that no one, including the UN, is doing a thing about it. Many musicians are social activists, and Dagyap is no exception. The Tibetan issue is one of global importance. Hip-hop artists in the United States and South African have used their music as a means to disseminate the message of racial oppression, and artists in Indonesia have used hip-hop to speak out against government injustice and Islamic rule. Dagyap, and other Indo-Tibetan artists, are doing the same by sending this message: the Chinese are killing Tibetans. They are attempting to exterminate them.
Hip-hop in the Tibetan diaspora is a fairly new genre, as my forthcoming dissertation** [and hopefully, a few conference papers before then] will discuss. In this piece, Dagyap names his oppressors, calls for change, and ends with the phrase “Bod Gyalo!” – illegal on Chinese soil [including the Tibetan autonomous region], this means “Victory for Tibet!” Here, here. Congratulations to Dagyap on this outstanding piece of social commentary. Let’s share it with the stakeholders who give a damn, and more importantly, with those who don’t…
(**First I have to get this thesis churned out!)
- Spotlight on: Karma Emchi “Shapaley” (sociosound.wordpress.com)
- ‘Self-immolation death’ in Tibet (bbc.co.uk)
- Tibet ‘sees first monk self-immolation protest’ (rombizco.wordpress.com)
- Tibet ‘in first monk immolation’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Twelfth Tibetan Self-Immolates, but Survives (nytimes.com)
- Another Tibetan Sets Himself on Fire (time.com)
- Another Tibetan Sets Himself on Fire (time.com)
- Tibetan hospitalized after self-immolation attempt (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Tibetan Hospitalized After Self-immolation Attempt (maboulette.wordpress.com)
- Another Tibetan Sets Himself on Fire in Protest (abcnews.go.com)
- Leader of exiled Tibetans accuses China of abuses (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Senior exiled Tibetan monk urges end to immolations in China (csmonitor.com)
- Self-Immolations in Tibet (whsword.wordpress.com)
- Tibetan leader for dialogue with China – eTaiwan News (taiwannews.com.tw)
October 2011: Karma Emchi, a Swiss-based Tibetan vocalist released a new song on YouTube called “Made in Tibet.” The track has received over 30,000 hits since its release. It’s clear in this song that he is trying to send a message to Tibetans living within the borders of Tibet. If you’ve been watching the news in the past few months, you’ve heard about several monks self-immolating themselves for the cause. Although it’s unrelated and there are several Tibetan social commentaries on those events, these videos could not have been released at a better [and more controversial] time. Far from the precarious border himself, Karma Emchi is able to voice his opinion and send a message without fear of direct government retribution – though some of his work is banned in China according to other posts. Listen to this October release, then continue reading:
I’ve already sent an email to him asking about getting a “Made in Tibet” shirt for myself. In addition to disseminating his message via music, Karma is taking a filmic stand. Concerned about identity loss, he directed this 3-minute short:
What else has this guy done? On March 24, 2011, Karma released a comedic song about Tibetan meat pastry. I posted the original video to my Twitter feed when it was first released. It was intended to be funny – listen to the story of what happened here as investigated by Rebecca Novick at The Tibet Connection. It may surprise you!
He’s obviously someone to keep an eye on… if you see/hear of anything new in relation to Emchi, let me know!
- Chinese crackdown reduces flow of refugees across the border to a trickle (independent.co.uk)
- The Ultimate Act of Protest (politics.ie)
- Tibet rocked by wave of self-immolation (independent.co.uk)
- India: Tibetan Sets Self On Fire In Front Of China Embassy (huffingtonpost.com)
- Letters: Tibetan deaths violate Buddhism (guardian.co.uk)