Burma’s Hip-hop Under Attack
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Burma’s Hip-hop Under Attack


By THE IRRAWADDY MAY, 2008 - VOLUME 16 NO.5


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Yan Yan Chan performs at a concert in Rangoon.
BURMA’s hip-hop performers are now on the hit list of the authorities, who have grown increasingly nervous about their activities since the September 2007 demonstrations.

Popular rap and hip-hop artist Yan Yan Chan is the latest to feel the regime’s displeasure. He was arrested in April, two months after the detention of his friend and fellow member of the ACID group, Zayar Thaw, who is being held in Rangoon’s Insein Prison. Where he is being held is unknown.

Yan Yan Chan and three musicians founded ACID, Burma’s first hip-hop band, in late 2000 and rapidly hipped and hopped their way to nationwide popularity. A singer who is a friend of Yan Yan Chan said the pop star had been under observation by the authorities since the arrest of Zayar Thaw. Both are outspoken supporters of the pro-democracy opposition.

In December 2007, rapper G-Tone was arrested for revealing a tattoo on his back during a performance that depicted images of a devotional wai and prayer beads. The authorities interpreted the tattoo as a symbol of support for the demonstrating monks. G-Tone was released but banned from performing for one year.

The regime’s mouthpiece, The New Light of Myanmar, ran an editorial in January warning young people to “stay away from decadent costumes, words incompatible with Myanmar [Burmese] customs and behavior that lacks modesty.”

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