Last week, police arrested members of the Rap Against Dictatorship, a Thai rap/hip-hop group famous for their anti-government songs and lyrics. The group has been one of the most vocal critics of the military government and the entrenched bureaucracy in Thai society.
The government said that the group was guilty of sedition and illegal assembly making them part of a proud tradition of rappers and hip hop artists around the world targeted by governments for censorship and intimidation for speaking the truth.
It is a tradition that has stretched back to the early days of hip hop, from the dark narrative of inner city violence in Grandmaster Flash’s The Message to the anti-police message of NWA’s Fuck Tha Police. Their battles with the censors and public accusations of gangsterism and thuggery moved the social fabric of the United States and brought hip hop into the mainstream.
While the early social messages found in 80s and 90s Afro-American hip-hop may have given way to more mainstream appeal and messages in the rap and hip hop of today, the traditional has nevertheless found its way around the world as the genre grew in appeal and acceptance.
Today, hip-hop serves as not only a music genre but a ready medium for musical artists looking to fight injustice and shed light on existing problems.
We made a brief video of some of these artists.