'Lame' government rap responds to 'Prathet Ku Mee'

'Lame' government rap responds to 'Prathet Ku Mee'

Several of the artists from Prathet Ku Mee appeared at an academic seminar at Thammasat University on Wednesday and received a warm welcome. The YouTube video shot past 25 million views on Thursday (inset), still going strong. (Main photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)
Several of the artists from Prathet Ku Mee appeared at an academic seminar at Thammasat University on Wednesday and received a warm welcome. The YouTube video shot past 25 million views on Thursday (inset), still going strong. (Main photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)

An official government Thailand 4.0 rap video was played to introduce Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's remarks to about 500 attendees of a conference on startups at Government House on Thursday.

It was an obvious response to 'Prathet Ku Mee (What My Country's Got)' which passed 25 million YouTube views on Thursday.

Most fans of rap and hip-hop would find Thailand 4.0 lame. It features a melodic sampling of the national anthem and lyrics such as "There are many talented Thais, if we work together, we'd be stronger, stronger" and "Gen M, Gen Z, Gen whatever, if you all agree, it'd be easier, easier."

Gen Prayut said at the start of the business event that he was happy to hear a rap song with appropriate lyrics. He said some of the song's beats could be changed but the meaning of the words was good.

It received polite and scattered applause from the 500 young entrepreneurs and executives invited to the startup event.

Comments were sparse and more bemused than critical or supportive in the first hours after the video was posted on YouTube, where it had 900 views in the first 10 hours, and a like/dislike ratio of 3/22.

Gen Prayut has written several patriotic songs himself since seizing power in 2014, although none can challenge 'Prathet Ku Mee' in online views.

Thailand 4.0 emerged after days of increasing frustration both by the government and police, notably national deputy chief Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, over the political and legal inability to arrest the "Rap Against Democracy" group or to ban the song.

Prathet Ku Mee has struck a strong nerve among - presumably - Thai young people, millions of whom will vote for the first time in an election that might take place on Feb 24.

The video provocatively references subjects considered generally taboo in society. It replicates the gruesome historic scene where a corpse hanging from a tree is continuously beaten as a crowd cheers on, based on an iconic image from the 1976 massacre at Thammasat University by police and right-wing groups of pro-democracy students. A group of 10 rappers takes turns delivering verses such as "The country that points a gun at your throat, claims to have freedom but has no right to choose," and "You must choose to either eat the truth, or bullets."

Dechathorn Bamrungmuang, one of the rappers in Prathet Ku Mee, said at a Thammasat University seminar on Wednesday that he thinks the song grew quickly in popularity because hip-hop is becoming more and more popular around the world.

"When the song came out, there were both negative receptions and supportive messages to us," he said. "This made us feel like we can communicate with people through our music and that this song doesn't overstep any boundaries."

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Vocabulary

  • applause: showing enjoyment or approval of something such as a performance or speech by clapping the hands repeatedly to make a noise - การปรบมือแสดงความชื่นชม
  • appropriate: (opposite: inappropriate) suitable or right for a particular situation or purpose - ที่เหมาะสม
  • beat: rhythm, a regular sound or movement, especially music - จังหวะ
  • bemused: showing that you are confused and unable to think clearly - ซึ่งสับสน
  • boundary: a real or imagined line that marks the edge or limit of something - เขตแดน,เส้นแบ่งเขต
  • corpse: a dead body - ศพ
  • frustration: an annoyed or discouraged feeling because you cannot do or have what you want - ความผิดหวัง, ความไม่พอใจ
  • lame: done poorly - ไม่ได้เรื่อง  ใช้ไม่ได้
  • patriotic (adj): having or expressing a great love of your country - ด้วยความรักชาติ
  • polite (adj): having or showing good manners and respect for the feelings of others - สุภาพ, เรียบร้อย, มีกิริยาเรียบร้อย
  • scattered: happening in only a few places - โปร่ง, หยอมแหยม
  • sparse: only present in small amounts or numbers and often spread over a large area - บางตา, มีน้อย
  • taboo: something you are not allowed to do; a restriction, a limitation; a no no - ข้อห้าม, สิ่งต้องห้าม

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