Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer New Year brings success for Battambang rapper



Khmer New Year brings success for Battambang rapper

Rorm Nhi Kaeng Jerng’s music video has inspired imitation. Photo supplied
Rorm Nhi Kaeng Jerng’s music video has inspired imitation. Photo supplied

Khmer New Year brings success for Battambang rapper

Battambang rapper Ngoun Chan Devith’s original song Rorm Nhi Kaeng Jerng took over Angkor Sangkran, inspired imitation videos and got Prime Minister Hun Sen to shake a leg over Khmer New Year. The 21-year-old spoke with Vandy Muong this week about his surprise success.

What do you think about your song Rorm Nhi Kaeng Jerng being played across the country for Khmer New Year?

We were surprised [at the reaction], because we didn’t know which of the songs released for Khmer New Year would be popular. I am more excited about the appreciation from people for their support of original songs. It has inspired me a lot to compose more of my own songs. We have tried hard to compose lyrics, a melody and dancing style that is original, because we wanted to show that we can create our own song and dance for our people.

Is the song an original composition? How did you come up with the unique dance steps?

Rorm Nhi Kaeng Jerng is an original song with original dance steps that me and my team worked on together. I cannot do all the work alone, so I needed help from different people to develop a better idea. I composed the song, but the team worked on finding the dance steps for the song. What made Rorm Nhi Kaeng Jerng famous is that people find it easy to dance to.

Why do you think the song is so catchy?

Rorm Nhi Kaeng Jerng isn’t much different from other songs. But the lyrics are funny and not obscene or rude. I wanted to show people that we don’t need to use bad words to make it funny. It is based on a cha-cha-cha like melody, which is rare in Khmer music. Not many people know what cha-cha-cha is because it is a short-melody style of music writing.

What did you do before you become a singer?

In 2011, I came to Phnom Penh to work at a phone store. While working at the shop, I learned how to edit music and videos. While fixing phones, I would sing covers of songs from different singers. I started by singing a cover of a music video from South Korean rapper G-Dragon and then started composing my own songs. I uploaded them to YouTube, but they never became very popular.

How did you join Hang Meas Production? What kinds of songs do you compose and sing at first?

I joined Hang Meas production in 2015. I knew Pich Sophea, a Cambodian singer at Hang Meas Production, and after I had covered a few songs, we decided to work together on a new song. Our first song together was Café 1,500. In the song, she sings and I was rapping. Actually, I have never gone to music school, but my passion is music, especially hip-hop and rap songs.

Do you have any plan to compose more original songs in the future?

Yes. Until now, we always discuss with the team and production company owner before we compose and edit for each and every song. We want to have support from our people, and to make music that is enjoyable. Although we got different reactions from the audience, both good and bad, we don’t feel too much pressure, and we don’t give up, but we try hard to continue with our passion. We want to see Khmer people value and support Khmer original songs. We are glad, because the government values and supports our original songs.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four