Whilst I have been approaching this subject with some trepidation in regards to research projects, I am actually quite keen to be doing this assignment. I was worried about what to do, how to approach this ethnographic research project considering I have not had much exposure to media outside of my own western media influence. I am a white, middle class suburban girl who hasn’t had much of an inclination to explore much of the asian cultures outside of food and maybe some things that are just by chance. My understanding of ‘Asia’ is that it is a vast and broad area of study. Many countries are included in Asia, and I wanted to choose one that maybe wasn’t an obvious choice. Mongolia came to mind immediately, although it was because of the Disney movie Mulan that I even thought of it.
Mongolia is more than a Disney movie, obviously. I cannot remember where the thought of Mongolian hiphop came from, but I had heard about it recently and it just struck me as something I could explore. Trying to find Mongolian music though… Not as easy as I thought. Spotify? Nope. Youtube? Yeah, but I found that I would actually need a basic understanding of whether the language the music video was in was actually Mongolian. Google translate is going to have to be used frequently if I am to make sure what I’m listening to is actually Mongolian. I did a quick search of Mongolian hiphop and found a good resource of names to look up through a piece on the documentary ‘Mongolian Bling’. The documentary is something I will buy to watch, because it is not that readily available in Australia. But from this documentary information I found some people to start my Mongolian hiphop journey.
The artists Enkhtaivan, Quiza, Digital and Tatar have been my first venture into this cultural phenomenon. My experience with listening to them have been only through youtube, and I will admit I had to check on google twice to make sure that they were actually Mongolian, because there’s no translate function in youtube (which I feel like there should be). I want to make sure that what I’m listening to is actually what I have intended on finding. The first song I listened to after I searched “Mongolian Hiphop” into google ( I know, very imaginative) was a song from the film “Time of the Middle Emperor”, and the song is ‘Mongol’ by the Mongolian rap band Fish Symbolled Stamp. One of the things that stood out to me is the title of the youtube video is “Mongolian Traditional Music Throat & Long Song (Mongolian Rap Hip Hop)”. So from this I can already tell that the selling point for music like this, is not the band but the idea of the Mongolian throat singing with rap music is more exciting for those who aren’t of the culture. Listening to the song, I was hooked. I loved it. I showed my mum, and she loved it. It’s throaty, it’s raw and it’s so different from the music we hear in on the radio in Australia. This is something that is so different, but so similar in a way. The beat is catchy and makes you want to move but the words and the way that the artists sing and spit their words makes you feel like you’re in another world. The way that the traditional throat singing is sewn into the song is a stunning mixture of traditional and modern culture.
Mongolian hiphop to me makes me so aware of the fact I am so uneducated with outside cultures. I don’t understand the language, and I am sure the themes of the videos and music are important, and I won’t immediately understand the significance of them together. Through this project I want to be able to find a way to understand and relate to the content, and enjoy it while I do it.
The goal of this project is to eventually have an understanding of the cultural significance of Mongolian hiphop in a modern Mongolia, the reach it has in the wider global community and explain how I relate and engage with the material I am researching. I want to explore it, and I want to explore how I engage with the music as a cultural event and a media. I will endeavour to explore how the use of which platforms I use to watch and listen to this music changes my experience and how the cultural significance of the music changes with how you listen to it and from where you find it.
Aljazeera.com. (2017). Mongolia’s hip hop rappers. [online] Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2012/10/201210483547210889.html
Mongolian Traditional Music Throat & Long Song (Mongolian Rap Hip Hop). (2014). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h_hS0d4vqg [Accessed 29 Aug. 2017].