The Straits Times
Published on Sep 21, 2012

China's Mongolian hip hop artists rap about coal and cash


HOHHOT, China (AFP) - In a sprawling industrial city in Inner Mongolia, three rappers surround a microphone, dressed in the baseball caps, baggy trousers and branded trainers favoured by hip hop fans the world over.

The sparsely populated region in north-eastern China counts mining and milk among its main industries, and locals are more familiar with throat-singing than rapping.

But members of China's Mongolian ethnic minority, whose ancestors were first united by Genghis Khan, are turning to hip hop to condemn the resources boom they say is wreaking havoc on their traditions and lands - while avoiding the authorities' attention.

"Herders are bribed with cash, and our land is torn up by machines," the trio, who go by the English name Poorman, rap in their track Tears. "Brothers and sisters, we need to wake up!" Once an economic backwater, the development of thousands of coal mines to tap Inner Mongolia's vast mineral reserves has made the region one of China's fastest-growing.