On The Scene: Yugong Yishan 15-03-2013


How could I ever turn down Mongolian hip-hop? No friggin way. Yeah yeah, you got to see Russian hardcore, Brazilian post-punk, Tasmania metal, but I, good sir, got to feast my eyes on Mongolian hip hop. First off though, was a showing of Mongolian Bling, the documentary by Benj Binks, which was a great entry point into exploring how hip hop found its way into  Ulaanbaatar over the past two decades, transforming the urban culture in various ways. Incredibly insightful and engaging, following three narratives in the hip-hop world, the film was jealously good – made with skill, spunk, and most importantly, a butt load of patience. Yeah, six years filming – don’t think I would have ever have that in me. But back to the main course, Quiza, one of the film’s stars, who made his Beijing debut tonight at Yugong Yishan, and did not disappoint.

So scratch that one off my list. Oh and read below to check out our own Nasty Ray freestyling and an abridged version of Hanggai representing Mongolian.


It was interesting watching Nasty Ray immediately after the documentary. One of the themes explored throughout the film is the authenticity of hip hop in Mongolian – does it have its own elements or is it simply a rip off of Western rap and hip hop. The film offers no answer (as it should) but I kept reminding myself of this as Nasty Ray gave audiences a taste of his ‘natural flavor’.

Literally box checking down a list of hip hop greats, 2pac, Biggie, Public Enemy, Nasty Ray owes a lot to the scrappy young rapper of the early nineties. Perhaps a bit too much. I will say this – the man knows how to freestyle (around the 4:44 mark). But as a friend tells me everytime I bring up the good ol’ Nasty, man needs some real beats backing him – something a little more to chew on.

\"quiza1b\" And by beats, this is how you produce something – Quiza the totted ‘traditional’ rapper of Ulaanbaatar, made his way uneasily on stage to an audience full of Chinese, laowais, and surprisingly some Mongolian blood as well. After a clumsy first minute, Quiza fell right into the groove and gave hip hop more than enough to chew on.

Vibrant, engaged, and with a flow your ayi would be proud of, Quiza was the real deal. Nothing feels rehashed here – using beats which mix old school glossy West Coast stylings along with traditional Mongolian elements ranging from two-bowed strings to khöömii style singing, it approaches the genre through a new lens. Lyrically, it sounds as though Quiza has something on his mind, a message if you will, made clear in his rich yet heavy edged language. Perhaps the film spoiled me before, but if Quiza is the ambassador of Mongolian rap, I think it’s definitely headed in the right direction.


And if that wasn’t enough audiences were treated to a little Hanggai, albeit without the hardy voiced Lao Hu on lead. Nevertheless, any Hanggai is still better than no Hanggai.

In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Ileta did on lead mic – adding a warm almost melancholic depth to a lot of their already widely known songs. This note was hit upon further when the band finished on this lovely lullaby.

Perhaps because I’ve seen Hanggai so many times already, but I find myself appreciating the abbreviated versions of Hanggai more and more. Speaking of bling bling , gotta get me some of those kicks.


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