Rapper looks to put Mongolia on the international hip hop map

2019/06/28 17:01:25 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Ginjin / Photo courtesy of Ginjin

Ginjin / Photo courtesy of Ginjin

By William Yen, CNA staff reporter

For many people, "Mongolian music" brings to mind an image of a Mongolian elder playing a two-stringed fiddle called a morin khuur and singing a folk song, but 26-year-old rapper Ginjin has made it his mission to change people's ideas about music from his country.

"I want to show our tradition, our culture and history through our hip hop music, our modern music," said Ginjin, who has gained the moniker "Trap King of Mongolia."

Ginjin

In the lead up to his performance in Taipei on Friday at the 2019 Golden Melody Festival, -- a series of events preceding the Golden Melody Awards, otherwise known as Taiwan's Grammy Awards -- Gingin said he is looking forward to the event because his style of "representing" Mongolia will be different to others.

"Usually when Mongolians go to other countries to showcase their culture, they use folk songs or traditional songs, but I want to show our culture through hip hop," he said.

Even though he is one of five acts scheduled to perform at the festival that day, Ginjin's connection with Taiwan runs deeper than his 30 minutes on stage.

His bond with Taiwan stems from his 2011-2015 study of tourism and hospitality management at Kaohsiung's I-Shou University, during which time he wrote lyrics and recorded music.

Ginjin / Photo courtesy of Ginjin

"Before, I was making music only for the Mongolian public. But later, when I was studying in Taiwan, I realized that I had to make music for the whole world," Ginjin said.

The international perspective came to light in 2014 when he recorded "Kaohsiung Most Wanted," a compilation of 15 famous rap instrumentals laced with his lyrical rap skills in English.

In the mixtape, Ginjin tied elements of Kaoshiung into his tracks.

"You know we downtown, you know we gonna shine, Kaohsiung's most wanted in the house," he sang in one of the tracks.

Ginjin / Photo courtesy of Ginjin

In another track, Ginjin describes how the school holiday season is spent in the southern port city with the beach and the sun.

"Summer night in Kaohsiung, warmer than Taipei. Summer nights in Kaohsiung, every night is Friday," he sang.

"That album made me realize that I had to use English more and try to not only make songs for Mongolians," Ginjin said.

Ginjin / Photo courtesy of Ginjin

However, it was another track he wrote, "Ugzug Saihan Bol Zus Saihan," which translates to "As long as the ass is good, everything is fine," a trap party track that made him famous in his home country.

For a country of approximately three million, the number of online views of the track has already surpassed the number of Mongolia's population.

Ginjin describes the song's popularity as due to it being new and different to what was being circulated in the local hip hop community in Mongolia.

The hip hop topics currently dominating the Mongolian hip hop scene are mainly about the government, societal and political issues, with rappers calling out lies the government may have told, he said.

Ginjin / Photo courtesy of Ginjin

"But I did the opposite, I did a song about ass and that brought controversy," which ensured the track received wide circulation, Ginjin said.

"I was kinda like the pioneer on that one," Ginjin said.

Following his success, Ginjin dropped various other trap songs such as "Baiji," "Pretty Girls like Trap," and "Unuudur" in 2018, while in 2019, he started making songs that would cross over into neighboring countries.

Ginjin / Photo courtesy of Ginjin

In that year, Ginjin released the song "Arasso," meaning "alright?" in Korean and "Ganbei," which means "cheers!" in Mandarin.

The music video for "Arasso," which was in a slower relaxed mood, presented Ginjin in traditional Mongolian garb, sporting a similar Gucci headband, and carrying a traditional dagger by his side.

Ginjin's music not only connects with a wider international audience with much loved party tracks and trap beats, it also features popular trends and sayings among Mongolian youth, while making an attempt to showcase their traditional clothing.

Jakub Haidari, hip hop events organizer and Ginjin's collaborating partner, said Ginjin hopes to promote Mongolia to the world.

Ginjin (left) and Jakub Haidari

"By releasing the music video Ganbei on international platforms, American and European viewers can see Mongolia and learn about the country and see that there is good hip hop there," Haidari said.

Ginjin also hopes to connect with other Asian hip hop artists, Haidari said.

To date, Ginjin has recorded music with Taiwan rapper YZ and Hong Kong rapper Dough-boy, both of whom have a large fan following in Asia. Speaking about the collaborations, Haidari said they were more about Ginjin making music with someone who shares his values, as opposed to just making music with someone famous.

Jakub Haidari (right), Ginjin (second right), ThaEiht (center), and YZ (second left)

Ginjin is scheduled to hit the stage later Friday with YZ and another local rapper ThaEiht at the Syntrend Clapper Studio in Taipei. The Golden Music Festival kicked off June 26 and will run through Saturday, while the 30th Golden Melody Awards ceremony will be held at the Taipei Arena Saturday night.



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