Written by Katie Cunningham
Machik Program Intern & Rising Senior at Sidwell Friends School
I’ve listened to ANU's “Phur” over 75 times throughout my summer internship at Machik, but I nonetheless felt the lively energy and buzz around last Saturday’s Khabda. Once again, I was stunned by ANU’s talent, resilience, and ability to transcend language barriers. All non-Tibetans in attendance noted their music’s ability to bring tears to one's eyes without even glancing at the lyrics, which only further enhanced the emotion. Over the past eight weeks, I’ve researched Anu Ranglug, translated articles from Chinese to English to provide context for the phenomena that is ANU, and gathered various data points for our ANU infographic (such as YouTube hits for their videos). At the end of the day, I learned the most about ANU's music and its social impact by sitting down with a diverse group of people who share a common interest and curiosity for Tibet.
Amidst my research, I didn’t fully comprehend what ANU’s role in the wider community of "hip-hop" meant. Although the genre originated in the Bronx, New York City, it has spread to nearly every corner of the globe, including Tibet. While global hip hop artists acknowledge and honor the African American and Latinx community that launched the movement, local culture and sound are often incorporated into their music. ANU is no exception; Gonpa and Payag brilliantly blend modern rap and hip hop with traditional Tibetan folk music.
Throughout the history of hip hop as a culture, people from diverse backgrounds utilize this medium to articulate their lived experiences and stories which may often be completely erased or forgotten. As our DC Khabda group dissected ANU’s music videos, lyrics, and clothing brand, I discovered a new meaning behind their creative production. “Fly”’s underlying sociocultural message and ANU’s conscious decision to perform a cover of “Apologize” in front of a majority Chinese audience were stunning to me. Another layer that was uncovered during our discussion was their creative use of double-speak. 1376, in their accent, sounds like the Tibetan phrase, “What you think, you can accomplish.”
While ANU’s music, dance, and dress are upbeat, catchy, and fun, it also provides extreme value to Tibet and beyond.