by Julia Vaccarella ’20
Film, television, and music, among the many other forms of entertainment, are most commonly associated with serving the purpose of providing something to listeners and audiences alike. People engage in these outlets to find joy, learn something new, or laugh; however, entertainment also has the ability to deliver powerful messages to anyone that is willing to listen. This is exactly the case with Rap Against Dictatorship, an international band that has recently gained immense traction.
As the name of the group may blatantly suggest, the members of this band utilize their music to speak out against the government in Thailand. Rap Against Dictatorship’s global popularity significantly increased with the release of a music video on YouTube. The entirety of the video is presented in black and white to further convey the seriousness of the powerful message at play: the condemnation of the government. James Hookway of the Wall Street Journal says, “The song, ’What My Country’s Got…,’ is the strongest evidence yet of the discontent building here against junta chief and prime minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, and it is the younger generation that is leading the way.” The music video for the song has surpassed 30 million views.
Their music is not that different from what is found on the rap charts of Billboard and iTunes in the United States, and the genre is becoming increasingly popular in Thailand. Rap Against Dictatorship has also been compared to a number of American rap artists.
Additionally, their intent is to spread awareness about their dissatisfaction with the government and to ultimately enact change with the assistance and increased knowledge of those listening—both in their native country and throughout the world. The use of the internet, namely YouTube and news platforms, has undoubtedly contributed to the growing number of individuals who are familiar with Rap Against Dictatorship and the issues they are trying to bring to light.
Unfortunately, this growing popularity could result in legal consequences for the band. Such vocal slander against the government has sounded alarms for legal officials in Thailand. This has created rumors that the members of Rap Against Dictatorship may be questioned for breaking the law. However, it is certainly possible that such statements are merely propaganda being issued by officials representing the government in an effort to thwart the band’s agenda.
One of the four members of Rap Against Dictatorship, Dechathorn Bumrungmuang, has asserted in an interview that, “We’re all OK. No one in our group has been directly contacted by anyone from the government. What the media reported worried us more than anything. Just the fact that the prime minister responded to us meant we got our message across to who we were targeting.”
Rap Against Dictatorship’s intent to criticize the prime minister of the nation and his associated military rule certainly poses risks. However, as history has shown, there can be a price to pay as a tradeoff for standing up for what you believe in.