Rapping for reform in the Kingdom of Thailand
In a country where disrespecting the king can see you jailed for life, this is protest music with real consequences.
Any traveller who has been to Thailand knows that the one thing you don’t do is diss the king.
Under the principle of Lèse-majesté, any person who defames or insults the king, the queen, their ancestors or their descendants can be imprisoned. Sometimes indefinitely.
The Banana Pancake Trail is awash with stories of drunken backpackers spending the night in Thai jail courtesy of Section 112 of the local Criminal Code.
Some made jokes about the king.
Others simply passed out drunk in front his picture. (They’re everywhere, by the way.)
Being disrespectful towards the king is something you just should never do.
That’s what makes the release of ‘Reform’ by Rap Against Dictatorship such a brave and incendiary act.
Rap Against Dictatorship (R.A.D.) are 12-person collective of musical dissidents.
They are Thailand’s most popular rappers and they’re determined to shine light on government corruption and bring about meaningful political reform.
Their song ‘My Country Has’ announced their arrival and immediately got them into hot water.
With ‘Reform’ they’ve gone for the jugular.
The video was shot last November amongst protesters as they tore down the gate to Sanam Luang. The song expresses the anger and frustration of the demonstrators.
There are no filters. The no-holds-barred lyrics are propelled by an angry trap beat. Frontman Dechathorn Bamrungmuang, aka Hockhacker, has already been arrested and charged with sedition.
This is protest music with serious real-world consequences.
Main image: Promo poster featuring 3Bone from Rap Against Dictatorship (© Rap Against Dictatorship via Instagram)