BANGKOK — A rap video criticizing the junta had been watched nearly a million times on Facebook and YouTube as of Wednesday, less than 24 hours since its release.
While a producer and rapper from the Rap Against Dictatorship crew said the song isn’t illegal, he said four of the 10 artists featured in the video covered their faces to remain anonymous for fear it would paint them as pro-democracy activists.
“They don’t want to have their lives implicated with this issue. They are not activists,” said 33-year-old Pratchayaa Surakamchonrot, one of four producers who took part in the collaboration protesting military rule.
The 10 underground rappers, including Hockhacker, Liberate P and ET, adopted different aliases to maintain their anonymity for the song.
Pratchayaa, a former singer and songwriter with label RS, said their six months of work on the song appeared to pay off, as the song, “My Country’s Got …” (“Prathet Ku Mee”) attracted wide attention on its first day of release.
Former Pheu Thai MP Chaturon Chaisang – himself charged with sedition for challenging the junta’s claim to legitimacy after the 2014 coup – took to Facebook to say he likes the song.
The song is a rare voice of dissent from the popular culture; mainstream performers and celebrities are loathe to speak out on political matters and have been criticized for cooperating with the military government.
That reticence is absent in the 5-minute song in which the 10 rappers take turns denouncing what they see wrong with Thailand.
The lyrics speak about the hypocrisy of being under military dictatorship, the deep political division, deaths on both sides and the failure of self-righteous moralism:
“My country preaches morals but has a crime rate higher than Eiffel / My country’s parliament house is a soldiers’ playground / My country points a gun at your throat. Claims to have freedom but gives no right to choose / “My country’s government is untouchable. The police use laws to threaten people / My country asks you to stay quiet or in jail.”
Pratchayaa, who has been rapping 15 years and considers himself a pro-democracy activist, said they hope the song inspires other performers to recognize that they can make a difference, no matter how little.
“I have no concrete expectations. But I expect the idea to spread so that other hip-hop artists can do it too. They can encourage others to think and express themselves,” the rapper said, adding that he hopes a music festival against dictatorship could be organized soon. He said they would try to go ahead with one, even if it’s banned.
The song, which has been shared more than 20,000 times on Facebook, is not without the usual profanity:
“You can’t say ‘shit’ even though your mouth is full of it / Whatever you do the leader will see you / The country where assholes own the sovereignty / You must choose to either eat truth or bullets.”
On the current state and promised elections, there are more expletives: “Four years already, motherfuckers, still no elections. Free country? Fuck it! Don’t tell me that I can choose. Even the PM is still picked by the army.”
To top up the ambiance, the video was filmed on a set evoking the beating of a lynched student’s corpse during the Oct. 6, 1976, massacre at Sanam Luang by right-wing ultra-royalists.
Pratchayaa said the rappers, himself included, chose the backdrop to highlight the senselessness of Thai society back then that could return if people are not mindful.