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Mongolian Bling

We follow three young rappers as they combine traditional Mongolian music with western rap to create nomadic hip hop.

Last updated: 03 Oct 2012 13:32
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Filmmakers: Benj Binks and Nubar Ghazarian

In modern-day Mongolia, apartment blocks have replaced tents, Hyundais have taken over from horses and businessmen walk where nomads once roamed.

We jump into the thriving alternative music scene in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar and follow three young rappers as they record new tracks and draw inspiration from their fast-changing environment.

While many rappers aspire to make it in the West, some are inspired by their elders, and hope that traditional values and cultures will not be lost in their fast-changing society. 

Click here to meet the Mongolian rappers.

Filmmaker's view: Benj Binks

Mongolia is a fairly obscure country. Ask people what they know about it and most will say Genghis Khan, nomads, the Gobi desert and Mongolian BBQ.

The little media information that does get out of the country usually depicts traditional nomadic life, a foreign world that the West romanticises about.

Although Mongolia definitely has an amazing traditional culture, it also has a modern urbanised contemporary society in which the majority of the population lives.

Mongolian Bling will take people beyond the stereotypical traditional images of Mongolia and reveal another less expected side of the country.

Traditional Mongolia goes back centuries, and serves as a comparison to the modern life that has swept the country since socialism ended and democracy was introduced some 18 years ago. However, what grabbed me when I reached Mongolia was this modern society.

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In the film, I try to capture how I felt and what I saw when I landed in the capital Ulaanbaatar and discovered the real Mongolia.

It is a grey Soviet city with battered old Hyundais crammed into the street next to flashy new SUVs - a city infested with new buildings and construction sites.

It is a place where grandparents traditionally dressed in bright colours walk down the crumbled footpaths of Ulaanbaatar hand-in-hand with their 'baggy-pants and baseball-cap wearing' grandchildren.

And where cool 20-something-year-olds in trendy bars listen to live music and watch MTV while young monks sit in dingy internet cafés in the city's slums playing World of Warcraft.

The film attempts to show some of the effects that globalisation has had on an ancient culture through the eyes of the hip hop artists who have had such a significant influence on the new generation of Mongolians.

The stories of Gennie, Gee and Quiza - and of their established, well regarded and an emerging talent - help view Mongolia through their eyes.

The Ger Districts reflect a lot of the issues that Gee talks of while Quiza incorporates the traditional music that Bayarmagnai sings. And Gennie’s story shows not only her maturing as she works with her idol Enkhtaivan, but also his support of her and Mongolian youth.

For more information about the film, click here.

Editor's note: After Mongolian Bling first aired on Al Jazeera in 2012, Enkhtaivan died from a heart attack in December of that year; he had just turned 36.  

 

Mongolian Bling can be seen from Wednesday, October 3, at the following times GMT: Wednesday: 2000; Thursday: 1200; Friday: 0100; Saturday: 0600; Sunday: 2000; Monday: 1200; Tuesday: 0100.

Click here for more Witness films.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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