Third Week of Research Has Ended: Reflections on Thailand Hiphop Fest 2019 and More

Greetings readers, it’s been officially just over three weeks in Kuala Lumpur, weeks that have been filled with both challenges and strikes of luck. Getting started on research for the first two weeks I have been here was slightly slow, due to it being the end of Ramadan – no one was having hip-hop shows during this time. However I did manage to talk to some people, make some new friends here, and go see the rap group K-Clique give a short performance (you can see the music video to one of their most popular songs here). One of my roommates and I also celebrated Eid at the International Islamic University Malaysia, where we ate so much food and talked to students and visitors from around the world.

The highlight of my research thus far is the 2019 Thailand Hiphop Festival, which I attended on June 8, right after Eid. I went to Bangkok alone the day before, and woke up early the morning of the 8th to visit the storefront of Thai streetwear brand Jone$ 500, a brand that has sponsored several Thai rap music videos. Jone$ 500 not only appears in music videos, but also, as I noticed at the festival itself, seems to be one of the favorite streetwear brands of many rappers as well as the favorite brand of many of Bangkok’s edgy fashionable youth.

The festival was sold out. It was held on the 6th floor rooftop of J.J. Mall, the popular mall right next to Bangkok’s famous Chatuchak Weekend Market. Part of the 6th floor parking lot had been converted into an open-air seating area, surrounded by a few food stalls and two gigantic temporary blank walls for the graffiti exhibition, and there was an indoor hall outside the big concert hall, where brands were offering promotions and the festival was selling official merch. The venue was absolutely packed, mostly with young people like myself, but with a few older fans, mostly men. People’s outfits were on point, with the favorite streetwear brands being Nike, Supreme, Jone$ 500, and Pretty Boy Gear (another Thai brand popular amongst hip-hop fans in Thailand). The music itself lasted 8 hours, so I came and went into the concert hall according to who I most wanted to see perform. Thailand’s best hip-hop superstars such as Og-anic, Twopee Southside, Youngohm, and F**king Hero all performed, as well as my personal favorite, Youngbong (you can see one of their music videos here), and countless others, from J$R to D Gerrard to Maiyarap. At the end of the concert, I was absolutely exhausted, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend this event.

Now that I’m back in Kuala Lumpur, and gearing up to attend several events this weekend, schedule interviews, and still trying to fit in time for reading and reflection, I’m excited to see where my research takes me next. I’ve noticed many interesting things so far that I am excited to explore further, and I’m looking forward to the people I will meet and talk to.

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