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Local hip-hop takes to stage

Artists from the Klap Ya Handz hip-hop label will be performing at Tiger Translate tomorrow.

Cambodia's second Tiger Translate festival looks set to blow its predecessor out of the water, with the Kingdom’s nascent hip-hop and street art scene at centre stage.

Based around the premise of “East Meets West”, Tiger Translate, sponsored by Tiger Beer, returns to Phnom Penh with local artists and musicians collaborating with a number of western acts.

Phnom Penh-based hip-hop label Klap Ya Handz have been the brains behind the local component of the festival’s organisation, bringing together the roster of Cambodian artists and preparing the interior decoration of the capital’s railway station.

After a frantic fortnight of preparation, Klap Ya Handz member and festival organiser Theavin Uk is excited about Friday’s upcoming festivities.  

“It’s gonna be a great event,” said Theavin Uk.

“Something cool, something different, and something out of the ordinary. Definitely a good translation between east and west.”

Theavin Uk said he was interested to see the fruits of collaboration between local and international artists.

“Cambodians really aren’t exposed to any type of street art. The art skills that they have are what they learned from school and university.”

Em Riem is one of three Cambodian artists who will collaborate in the live painting of a graffiti wall with Israel’s Broken Fingaz crew.

“We will have three hours to finish a two metre tall graffiti wall,” Em Riem said.

“I have some ideas to show in Khmer features that I think will not overlap with the Western way.”

Em Riem said that younger local artists such as Ouk Chanvichet and Kong Voleak would also be involved in the live painting.

“It is the first time I have participated in live graffiti, but I don’t think it will be a difficult thing for me, since I’ve also experimented with graffiti on the wall of kindergarten schools,” the 35 year-old artist said.

A number of artists affiliated with Klap Ya Handz will be performing on the night, including joint appearance by Philadelphia-raised Prolyfik, who has lived in Cambodia the last eight months, and Gobshite, a UK-born MC currently residing in Phnom Penh. Prolyfik, for one, is excited by what the festival will do to raise the profile of the capital’s burgeoning hip-hop scene.

“We are here to bring hip-hop back,” Prolyfik said.

“Hip hop is dead in Cambodia and we are here to bring it back!”

DJ Gang, a longtime associate of Klap Ya Handz, shifted his focus from rapping to deejaying two years ago, quickly becoming one of Phnom Penh’s most recognised record spinners.

Gang will be showing off his penchant for Dirty Dutch house music during his performance on Friday night.

“As far as I know, I’ll be the only Khmer DJ at the event,” he said.

“Although I use western music, most of the time I like to mix it with Khmer instruments to show people Khmer styles of music.”

DJ Gang concedes the truth of the popular belief that deejaying can be an easy job, but argues that “being a great DJ who can provide a great deal of fun and entertainment to the dancers is not easy at all.”

In the spirit of East-meets-West collaboration, Australian hip-hop group Astronomy Class and UK band Will of the People will be performing separate onstage collaborations with Cambodian pop sensation Preap Sovath.

Tiger Translate will be held at the Phnom Penh Railway Station this Friday, February 24th, starting from 7pm.



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