Think bling as Mongolian youth rap away their cares

Mon Mar 4, 2013 12:19am EST
 
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BEIJING (Reuters) - Forget nomads, heavy tents and epic songs chanted after a long day of herding across vast grasslands. These days, Mongolian young people are entranced by rap.

Born on the mean streets of U.S. cities and fanned by frustrated youth, rap and the hip-hop culture it extols are helping young Mongolians express the stresses of dealing with an increasingly urban society and all its woes.

"Continue like this and you'll be an alcoholic, you'll forget your family and parents, there go your loved ones," raps Ganbold, who lives in an impoverished district of Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital.

The skinny 16-year-old is one of several Mongolian rappers featured in "Mongolian Bling," a 90-minute documentary by Australian Benj Binks that showcases how hip-hop has become a popular vehicle of expression for the nation's stress.

"The film is really about what it means to be Mongolian in this day and age. It is not a music documentary, though there is a lot of music in it," said the first-time director, who first discovered that hip-hop was popular in Mongolia on a 2004 visit.

"I could have told this story through rock, or maybe even through techno. But hip-hop was the most in your face. The scenes reflect the urban culture."

The film premiered at the Revelations Film Festival in Perth last year and will be screening at Beijing's Asian Film Week in March, though it has yet to be shown in the country where it was made due to other commitments on Binks's part.

Ganbold, who hails from one of Ulan Bator's "ger" districts, where many residents live in traditional tents without access to electricity and modern sanitation, said he sang to try and humanize alcoholism, one of Mongolia's worst social problems.

"This is about how most Mongolians despise alcoholics. Some people see them as not even human," explains Ganbold in the film. "Others see them and feel sorrow for their addiction."   Continued...

 
Mongolian singer Gennie, 26, a cast member in the documentary "Mongolian Bling", poses for a photo at an undisclosed location in this picture provided by "Mongolian Bling" and dated June 28, 2010. REUTERS/Benj Binks/Mongolian Bling/Handout