BANGKOK — One of Thailand’s most famous rappers – if not the most famous – said Friday he would do his best to bring Thai hip hop to the world stage, days after he signed on with an international label dedicated to promoting regional talents.
Daboyway, also known as Prinya “Way” Intachai of Thaitanium rap group fame, signed on with Def Jam Southeast Asia in Singapore on Tuesday, joining other music luminaries like Justin Bieber and Kanye West under the label’s global umbrella. The move coincides with a recent resurgence of hip hop in Bangkok’s nightlife scene.
“I just want to keep doing what I’ve always done, but on another level and more far-reaching,” Daboyway told Khaosod English in a written statement on Friday night. “I want to take Thai hip hop overseas.”
At the Tuesday event, Universal Music Group said they would be establishing Def Jam Southeast Asia, which would focus on pushing local hip hop artists.
Daboyway, was unveiled as one of the six Southeast Asian rappers signed with the label. The others were Joe Flizzow of Malaysia, A. Nayaka of Indonesia, and Singaporean rappers Yung Raja, Alif, and Fariz Jabba.
Representatives of the label also hinted they would be finding more local talent in the other ASEAN countries.
Adam Granite, a market executive of Def Jam Southeast asia, said that issues in Southeast Asia’s “difficult living conditions,” could prove it to be a rich ground for hip hop.”
“What we are trying to get away from is the colonial approach,” Granite said in a press statement. “The reality is you need people on the ground who have relevancy and understand the local culture, in a way I never will because I didn’t grow up here.”
Daboyway may be the most established so far, having amassed more than 1 million followers on Instagram and his fame from the early 2000s.
Current artists under the universal Def Jam label include: Justin Bieber, Kanye West, BTS, and 2 Chainz.
Hip hop has been usurping techno in hip hubs in Bangkok since 2014. Hip hop’s rebellious, anti-establishment side has also found a voice with Thai activists.
The “Rap Against Dictatorship” group gained international fame and recognition for “My Country’s Got,” released in Oct. 2018 which criticized the then-ruling junta and took a jab at various social ills.
Police officials briefly considered filing sedition charges against the rappers, to much ridicule on social media, but ultimately no legal action was taken. The video currently has more than 72 million views.
Here’s Daboyway’s latest single “GANGSH!T,” released in August.
Note: An earlier version of this article implied that Tuesday marked the first time Daboyway signed with Universal Music. In fact, he has been with Universal Music since earlier this year.