HipHopDX Asia feature series on AMS 2022

“Before that, we’d think that the only way to go worldwide is by making an English song. But the K-pop industry showed us that the world will acknowledge you if you have enough quality and identity that’s why I think that languages can’t contain us anymore yet it’s the culture that will be connecting all of us.”

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While VannDa’s music has English lyrics, the majority of his songs are in Khmer. He believes that this offers audiences a new way of listening to hip hop. “The language—we got a different sound, different symbol[s]. It’s a new sound… for the people who’ve never heard [of Khmer instruments.] I think the music speaks [for itself.] Music has no border, one love, one heart. This is how we connect [with others.]”

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Asked what he hopes the audience would appreciate about Pinoy hip hop, he said, “I think Filipino hip hop is very authentic. Part of it is gritty, and part of it is very soft and mellow. I think overall, it’s very honest.” But more than that, he just wanted to take in the whole thing. “I’m really excited to see how people perform, I wanna see how people from Thailand, from Singapore, engage with their audience. Something that I’m also looking forward to, especially within the hip hop scene, [is] how diverse people are, where they take their kind of hip hop.”

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“Hip hop started in 1973, and it originated in America. From then until now, it actually adapted and [was] improvised to become a universal language. There’s no right and wrong because it’s art, and people express their feelings and their meaning through that. For me, I’m really glad that I can also represent my feelings, my excitement for it, my love, my passion for hip hop, and my country.”

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On the difference between performing for an audience at home and a foreign one, he said, “In hip hop, when you perform you have to hype them [crowd] up. But when I was rehearsing, I [was thinking] that I would change the way I delivered it… The audiences here are very appreciative, [and it’s the same] in the Philippines. But to differentiate… I was so nervous earlier, actually. They don’t know you. But I bring myself—I carried it. It’s challenging, you need that confidence. You [shouldn’t] think twice, because first [impressions] are very important. That’s what I prepared for. The language barrier…I think I crossed it. I projected my energy.”

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Published by Py Fungjai

Co-founder & Director of Educational, Governmental and Overseas Partnership at

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