Rapping on the lines
A hip-hop outfit from Laos is all set to take Thailand by storm
The storyline of the now- shelved Thai comedy film "Mak Tae" ("Lucky Loser") was cause for a diplomatic row, but fortunately the soundtrack, performed by Laos' first hip-hop outfit, is not causing offence on either side of the border.
The young rappers who collectively call themselves LOG, which stands for Lao Original Geez and is pronounced, "eL-Ohh-Geez", were in Bangkok last week promoting their new remastered album and the numbers from the controversial movie.
"Our name is like 'what's up, geez?'" explains Aleqs, who along with fellow rappers Pele and Kak and chorus singer Anny, is Log.
"We came up the name four years ago when we started working on the tracks for our debut album 'Hip-Hip Favour'."
This isn't Log's first trip to Thailand. They've also appeared on Channel 9's programme "Mo Show", and were guests at Click Radio's fifth Fat Festival last year.
At the TV studio they met Thai rapper Joey Boy who persuaded the Laotians them to join his Gancore Club label under the GMM Grammy umbrella. It was a fortuitous encounter. The remastered album, which is out on Gancore, features the two songs chosen for the movie - "Si Pai Sai" and "Tu See Tu Sa".
The movie, directed by Adisorn Trisirikasem, focuses on the Lao national football team, which makes history when it becomes one of the 32 qualifiers for the World Cup.
But before the squad can move further up the ranks, there's a match against the Thai team.
"The song 'Si Pai Sai' ['Where Do You Go?'] asks the footballers where they are going and they answer 'si pai World Cup' ['we go to the World Cup']," explains the rapper.
"The music is mixed with traditional Laotian instruments, the 'khaen' and 'ranad'."
"And the lyrics are about unity, courage and disappointment," adds Pele.
"Tu Si Tu Sa" appears on the band's 'Hip-Hop Favour' album, which was released by Indee Records last year and re-mastered at Gancore Club this year. The remastered album is being distributed in Thailand and Laos.
Most Western hip-hop songs are a commentary on the difficulties of life or sarcastic complaints about capitalism. Are Log sticking to the same track?
"Not really. We want to raise awareness about hip-hop as it's still very new to Laos," says Aleqs, who is inspired by Snoop Dog and 2 Pac. "Our songs tend to be on the positive side with lyrics that talk about teenage love."
"We got the idea for 'Fan Phur' from a member of the rock band Cell. It's about a girl who is consoled by another man after her boyfriend lets her down. But it's not a love triangle thing, more about caring and friendship."
"The enhanced CD also includes an eight-minute documentary about us in Vientiane," adds Kak.
Log's original album did well, selling more than 20,000 copies in Laos and making waves in the Lao communities in America, Japan and Australia. The hip-hop outfit have performed live at several product launches as well as at Indee Record's "Freedom Concert 2".
"It's not just Lao immigrants who like us but also Westerners. At the Indee Freedom Concert 2 we were shown on Japanese television station NHK and an American channel - I forget the name - is making a documentary about us," says Aleqs.
"I'm also part of the English-speaking Lao community," says Pele, who studied in Sydney, Australia. "I listened to what people say at our concerts and they're really pleased that we're preserving the language."
Aleqs, Pele and Kak made music for more than 10 years before recruiting Anny for the chorus.
"Hip-hop really gained in popularity when it was given airtime on the radio. It's the new trend in Laos," says Aleqs.
Their fame is such that new rappers are popping up on the Lao music scene.
"We're proud to be whipping up the new generation's enthusiasm to show off their abilities," says Pele.
"We are looking for new hip-hop groups for Log to produce. Our label is all about style and sound," says a spokesman for Indee.
"The feedback for Log has been good and Aleqs is a promising beatboxer."
Will the group have a chance to join Joey Boy's album?
"That is one of the reason why we're at Gancore Club," replies Aleqs.
And do they have any plans for the future?
"We would like to be world-famous rappers," say Aleqs and Pele is unison.