LiFTED ON THE SCENE - Bangkok's Hip Hop culture runs deep
Travelin’ Matt gives a true insider’s view of Bangkok’s Hip Hop scene
G. Matthew Hammond AKA Travelin’ Matt is a Thai-American who has been repping Bangkok as a DJ, MC, event promoter, and radio host for over 20 years. Born and raised as an ‘army brat’ across the United States, he became a Hip Hop enthusiast working for such labels as Ruffhouse, Loud, and Okayplayer in Philadelphia before making his way to Southeast Asia and becoming a legit Hip Hop diplomat. A true insider on the scene, he has personally booked Hip Hop luminaries such as Ice T, Jazzy Jeff, DJ Premier, Biz Markie and many others in the Angel City. He also rocks as hype man for Bangkok’s biggest DJs and MCs. Follow him as he takes you on a journey to get LiFTED in BKK.
Currently hot on the local charts is a kid who's been killing the Thai scene for over a decade. Dominating with 3 top 10 singles on the local charts including Apple Music, Joox, and Spotify is a rapper who's name I'm not sure we can even print. He goes by the name Fukking Hero (real name Nattawut Srimhok). He's been a beast on the scene since the early 2000s and has collaborated with some of the biggest pop stars in the nation - at one point even becoming the national Pepsi spokesman. In real life he's the most polite gentle giant you’d want to meet. But put a mic in his hand he turns into a savage. A protégé of Thailand's legendary godfather of Hip Hop Joey Boy, and key member of his Gancore Club. F. Hero is now commander of his own Fat and Furious crew and is taking the throne as Bangkok's next king.
For more on F. Hero visit here.
Bangkok-based Pad Thai Soundsystem is set to release their debut full length project, The Spirit House, the title track for which is currently an editor's pick at Apple Music, gracing the New Fire and other playlists. Consisting of MC/DJ/producer duo, Peagreen Voxwagun and Nuh Bean aka Brooklyn Shanti, the group made it to a number two chart position in late 2020 alongside crew member Meddafore, with their release All Out Together. Stylistically, the duo takes from Hip Hop's golden era through bass music culture and trap, leaving no stone unturned. Voxwagun's background is rooted in Native Tongue culture and Shanti hails from the multi-culti Dum Dum Project. Having released music over the course of the last two years, Pad Thai Soundsystem has recently been collaborating with a number of global movers and shakers from various music scenes for the full-length. Think Lo-Fi Asian vibes pioneers like Onra-meets-moombahton-meets backpacker Hip Hop. Eclectic, underground, and dope.
For more on Pad Thai Soundsystem visit their Bandcamp below.
The DJ to watch for in Thailand has been a master here for decades - DJ Jedi. Let’s just say the force has been strong with this kid for a long time. He is 5X National DJ Champion, including wins as DMC Thailand Champion 2010, Pioneer DJ Digital Skratch Battle Asia Champion 2008 and has represented for DJ City Thailand and in the RedBull 3style. Stylistically, he's an all-purpose crowd rocker, spinning everything from major festivals to large nightclubs and small bars – mixing everything from Jazz and Lo Fi, to Thai and US top 40 Hip Hop. He produces mashups, remixes and mixtapes. Having studied in Seattle where he was introduced to Q-Bert, the Beat Junkies, Mixmaster Mike and other turntablists, they influenced him to learn the art of scratch and return to Thailand to start one of the first DJ Schools and Hip Hop vinyl shops in the country called Scratch Termite in 2001. Nearly 20 years later, his students are now winning many of the same contests he was dominating before they could talk, which is why many of the locals simply call him ‘Champ.’
For more on DJ Jedi visit here and check out his latest hot mixtapes with his friend DJ Anan - Thai Mashups Vol 2 below.
The B-Boy crew in Thailand making the biggest moves these days is 99 Flava led by Chinwut Chantarat aka B-Boy Chino. He founded the crew in 2008, but he’s been popping and locking since 1999. His crew has represented all over Thailand as well as internationally including the U.S., France, Vietnam, Singapore, Spain and Japan, winning contests almost everywhere they go. Chino has been instrumental in spreading the love of breaking throughout the kingdom, organizing events throughout Asia and representing with his crew globally with their unique Thai style of B-Boying.
For more on 99 Flava visit here.
Although he’s not a Bangkok native, Phuket Island resident and legendary artist, DJ, actor and producer Goldie AKA Clifford Price has probably made the biggest splash in Bangkok’s graffiti world recently. Last year he launched and curated a street art museum full of pieces from his personal collection as well as artists from around the world, including Thai artists. Aurum Gallery is filled with amazing graffiti and is a must see for any fans of urban expressions. An absolute must see even if browsing online.
One of the Thai Artists featured in the gallery is a definite standout not only in the gallery but also on the streets in Bangkok. He goes by the tag BENZILLA, and he's been getting up city-wide for over a decade. His art is inspired by pop culture, street culture, music and fashion. He’s recently been focused on blending his artwork across an array of media, such as mural art, sculpture, products and toy design. Finding commercial success and praise by artists like Goldie, he's been working with an impressive list of global brands that includes Levi’s, Lacoste, Freitag, Maurice Lacroix, G-Shock, Samsung, Disney, King Power, McDonalds, Mini, Vans, Adidas Originals, Toyota, Johnnie Walker and others.
Bangkok is a shopping paradise featuring more malls, mega shopping centers, small boutiques and night markets than just about any city on earth. Many are suffering these days due to the global pandemic and shuttering their physical locations driving many to online orders, but here is my Drip of the month in Bangkok. Preduce Skateboards is the spot in Bangkok for dope urban gear, skateboards and skate accessories as well as fresh kicks from Adidas, Vans, New Balance and DC. It is the only skateboard company in Thailand that supports a local but internationally touring skate team and features local graffiti artists on much of their boards and T-shirts. Since 2006, they have been producing a large range of products including skateboard decks, wheels, hardware, a full clothing line and accessories, and sick Skateboarding videos with the Thai kids they sponsor. Check them out and get swag that will have everyone asking, ‘Where’d you get that?'
To learn more about Preduce visit here.
WHERE'S THE PARTY AT?
Unfortunately, as of the time of this writing, due to the pandemic, Bangkok and all of Thailand are under government restrictions. No nightclubs are allowed to open and dancing is ‘illegal’ although small venues such as bars and restaurants are open now and live bands and DJs are permitted. Thailand's famous nightlife scene will hopefully return to full capacity nightclubs in the very near future but until then the city that never sleeps is taking a slight nap. I suggest checking with the venue to see opening times to make sure it is open before venturing out as laws seem to change weekly.
However, let me mention one of my favorite hangouts where things are poppin right now. SWAY is the self proclaimed Home of Hip Hop. The small venue features some of the best local Hip Hop DJs and live performances seven days a week. My personal favorite is Mid School Mondays. Who says the weekend ends on Sunday? Extend your weekends with this hot spot for anyone with a case of the Mondays. They are famous for their chicken wings and Mondays you can get a plate of wings in over a dozen different flavors for 50 baht and buy one get one free beer served up with some hot 90s to 2000s era Hip Hop. Catch Bristol UK bad boy DJ Tech 12 throwing down some wicked turntable skills alongside a temporary Thai resident DJ Ujinn. Ujinn hails from Russian outskirts Ulan-Ude city and is a full time Vietnam resident stuck on a five-hour layover for over a year now due to Covid travel restrictions. Definitely catch him live while he's trapped here as he crafts his unique blend of live remixes when you can
To learn more about Sway visit here.
Author Travelin' Matt can be contacted here.