Hip-hop crackdown in Burma

I'll freely admit to never having heard of Zayar Thaw before reading about him in the news and on the net today. You know I love Asian hip-hop and try to find it in the strangest places, but I honestly have never thought of looking at Burma as a possible country it could be big in. But apparently it is. Or was. Zayar Thaw, one of the biggest stars, was sentenced to six years in prison yesterday for his part in the 2007 uprising. Another big star, Yan Yan Chan, is still awaiting sentencing, and last year they came and took G-Tone, after he took off his shirt to show a tattoo in support of the monks. He was released, but banned from ever performing again.

The scene wasn't bad. There was plenty of stuff I could well have blogged about. Here are a couple of videos, a little old-fashioned perhaps but vital nonetheless.

Yan Yan Chan - Lite Kye

G-Tone and others freestyling

Acid (Zayar's and Yan Yan's group)- Ma Ya Kyout

Burmese C-Walk

Do you think we from the international hip-hop/globetech/whatever community have a special responsibility towards these people? We gladly accept their wares, play their records, encourage their independence. All this material would certainly have ended up on my old radio show. On one level I guess it's horrible when a dictatorial regime cracks down on anyone, or on any artist. But just like the PEN club defends writers specifically, I think this is precisely the sort of thing we need to engage in if we're not just going to be irresponsible surface skimmers.

What do you think?

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