Nattapong “Liberate P” Sareemuang made a debut in 2016 with his controversial “Oc(t)ygen,” capturing the unspoken fear of expressing one’s opinion under the military junta. Also a member of Rap Against Dictatorship, Liberate P wants to make music and a difference.
How are you creating music during the pandemic?
Making rap songs, in my opinion, doesn’t require as many people as making songs for other genres. We can delegate our work, record each individual part, and send them to the editor to finish the whole process. The challenge is when we launch new songs. When you try to insert something relevant, it can be drowned out in the feeds very quickly. I’m talking about the music scene in general. But for RAD, this isn’t much of a problem since the main subjects for our songs are relevant to social problems.
How do you deal with the risks of political charges?
Despite what everyone may think, we are not that fearless. True, we attack the establishment head on, but we never directly address them in our songs. We may address the issue of national budget in our song “Ngobpraman” (Budget) but we never discuss whose budget.
Compared to five years ago, how do you think the Thai hip-hop scene has changed?
When I launched “Oc(t)ygen” in 2016, people might have giggled attempting to read between the lines of all those hidden messages I added. I tried so hard to change the wording and hide my meanings among the rhymes. Subversive as I was at the time, I was still afraid [of getting caught] because the military junta still held a tight grip on the country. Today, people are talking about these messages in broad daylight. The [newer generations] are braver at saying those things to the point that addressing the establishment is now a norm.
Do you think the hip-hop scene can pave the way for political change in Thailand?
It’s rather the opposite. Rappers and other artists follow in the trails of Arnon Nampa and other political activists. [RAD] may be one of the first groups that made an impact and raised people’s awareness through our songs, but in 2019 it was Arnon, Mind (Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon), Mike (Panupong Jardnok), and others who paved the way for us. They helped unlock and overcome the inner fear that people had at the time, and it is our job to act as their speaker, amplifying their messages.