Well, the show about Cambodian hip-hop that was suggested to me after my last post has finally aired. Papa's Kappsäck turned out to be an interesting show and well worth watching, even if a lot of airtime was wasted on silly stunts. (There's a link to a podcast above. Probably watchable even for an international audience, especially the last half hour - love the bit where Papa Dee spontaneously finds harmonic similarities between sixties Cambodian material and The Temptations.)
Unfortunately, the show really didn't provide the answers I was looking for. It featured the same artist and producer I'd already linked to (and even the same street dance teacher), explained the beginnings of the style with returnee refugees and confirmed my impression of the scene as fairly small but dynamic and growing.
As for the two main questions I had in my last post, there was little information on offer. I still have no idea how most cambodians (and the cambodian elites, and the middle class in the countryside) view the music. As for the class and social position of the participants, they're obviously not of the absolutely poorest cadre of the population, but I got the impression that they're not in the richest quadrant either - the environments and clothing were a bit contradictory, as were the statements made. I've had some experience of third world country living standards (used to live in Tanzania) but what do you make of a man in a worn-out t-shirt who lives in a fairly big but ill-maintained house and who speaks about "underground culture"?
There was one piece of new information that very much interested me: that deportees, former Khmer Rouge refugees convicted of crimes and deported from the US, played such a significant role in the scene. This involuntary injection of a culturally detached group of american urban poor makes for a very interesting and dynamic process in the creation of new culture - I wonder how other deportee groups, like those in central america, have faired in this respect?
I obviously didn't quite get the answers I wanted from Papas Kappsäck, but they might have during the filming. I'll send off an e-mail to the production company and see if they might be able to help me...
Essential EP’s #13
2 weeks ago