Despite her 1.8 million Instagram followers and megahit after megahit, Danupha “Minnie” Kanateerakul, aka Milli, had exams last month. Already a superstar in her own right, the teenager was catapulted to political fame when Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha brought defamation charges against her at the then age of 18. Today Milli is one of the most recognizable names in Thailand hip-hop. As part of the “Hip-hop Fights Back” print issue of BK Magazine, we spoke with Milli about a changing industry. 

Pick up your copy of BK Magazine in Bangkok near you.

Is hip-hop a male-dominated industry? 

When I compose a song, I need to be very critical with my words. The lyrics can have a huge influence or impact on people’s perspective–not only about females but also myself as an artist. They tend to associate the lyrics in my music with my personality or they think that it’s about me. 

For guys, when it comes to performing on stage, it’s really easy as they can just go up with a casual outfit whether it’s just jeans and a t-shirt. People tend to just get wooed by their muscles. For females, we are expected to dress up in a certain way, because we are judged by our clothes and how we look on stage. We have to look perfect with our hair, makeup, jewelry, and everything while rapping and dancing on stage. 

Of course, this is not just a culture limited to the Thai hip-hop industry but it applies internationally as well. I hope I can break this stereotype or stigma that females are supposed to be well-dressed while men aren’t given so much pressure to do the same. Male hip-hop artists are given the title of being ‘cool’ while females have to put in that extra effort and make a fashion statement to really be in the limelight.

What are your goals? What kind of message do you want to send to female hip-hop artists? 

I want to do a world tour so I can learn more about hip-hop and different cultures around the world. I also want to support people who are trying to come into this line of work and LGBT rappers so they get equal opportunities. 

Could you tell us about the defamation charges and how you dealt with it? 

Actually, it happened because I didn’t use my words properly to put across my point. I was lucky that I had my family who supported me and guided me on how to deal with this situation. It was a lesson learned that I have to be cautious and careful the next time I speak up on a public platform, especially anything about the government.