Photo: Tsunari
Photo: Tsunari

Tsunari celebrates her cultural roots

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Read the following story by Suthivas Tanphaibul from Bangkok Post’s Guru Magazine. Then, answer the questions that follow.

Thai-British Trinidadian rapper Tsunari is ready to spice up the Thai music scene. Her latest release Since Young is another hit with a mix of British beats and traditional Thai sounds. Guru spoke to Tsunari about living in different cultures.

What made you decide to become a rapper?

Music is an international language. Music was a way that I used to escape from difficulties I faced during my childhood in Thailand. As a mixed-race child, people bullied me simply because of the way I looked. The only way I could ignore those negativities and express myself is through music.

How would you describe your rap style?

If I could put it in three words, it would be sassy, upbeat and real.

What's the story behind Since Young?

Since Young is about the struggles during my early life. I was always put down by people around me. Since then, I've made it my goal to prove them wrong. I'm going to outperform what they are expecting of me. The song is more like an inspiration for people. I want to encourage them to believe in themselves, conveying that they can achieve anything if they put their minds to it.

What was it like growing up in different countries?

I felt a bit challenged as a kid who changed schools every two years. You do not get to make many friends, and you switch languages all the time. I was born in the UK and grew up in Saudi Arabia and Thailand, all of which were poles apart in all aspects. On a positive note, I actually love it now and I am grateful because I got a chance to experience different cultures and people from such a young age. Each country has its own style and culture.

What were the difficulties you faced?

The first time I felt like I was different from everybody else was when I went to school in Korat, and I was called many bad names. It was hurtful for a young kid. It destroyed my confidence. However, all of those negative experiences have made me who I am today. I have to thank those bullies for trying to sabotage my self-worth with all those words. I have turned those prejudices into fuel to build up my confidence.

How did you overcome the bullying and racist comments?

You are the number one cheerleader for yourself and nobody is going to love you more than you. In fact, people will never change. They will always criticise the way you look and you can do nothing about it. You have to love and accept yourself for who you are and what you look like. Most importantly, you only live once, so give all you have got to everything you do in your life.

Section 1: Write the correct answer in the space provided.
1. Music caused problems for Tsunari when she was young. True or false? …………….
2. Her new song is about her childhood. True or false? …………….
3. How often did she change schools? …………….
4. Where was her Thai school? …………….
5. She is now thankful to her bullies. True or false?…………..
6. Tsunari thinks that people will change True or false? …………….

Section 2: Read the following passage. Then, fill in the blanks with the correct words from the choices given.
For the first few years in Thailand, I …7… like I was an alien. …8… I went, people looked and pointed at me. I was …9… why people …10… me like that.

7. __A. feel             __B. think                __C. felt
8. __A. Nowhere             __B. Everywhere              __C. Somewhere
9. __A. confuse            __B. confusion           __C. confused
10. __A. treated            __B. treatment                __C. treat
Section 3: Find words that match the following definitions.
11. lively, bold and full of spirit ……………
12. people who hurt or frighten someone else……………
13. believing that their race makes them better or more intelligent……………
14. to express disapproval of someone or something …………

Answers: 1. false. 2. true. 3. every two years. 4. Korat. 5. true. 6. false. 7. c. 8. b. 9. c. 10. a. 11. sassy. 12. bullies. 13. racist. 14. criticise.

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