To the Cast and Crew of “Tibet’s Secret”: Tibetan Rappers Demand RESPECT

2013 02 13 RESPECT By Sheep Droppings

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a bold new rap song called “RESPECT” by young Tibetans who call themselves “Sheep Droppings”. The weekly music video series here on High Peaks Pure Earth started last year in November but this week the style of music is markedly different from previous videos, it is also the first in the series in Chinese language. It’s been almost three years since High Peaks Pure Earth translated Tibetan rap song “New Generation” that went on to become our most popular post of 2010!

“RESPECT” is an angry rant against a TV drama produced by China Central Television called “Tibet’s Secret”. As described by Oiwan Lam of Global Voices in “Tibetans Outraged by Chinese TV Drama on Tibet”:

In China, a recently screened TV drama, Tibet’s Secret (西藏秘密), caused outrage amongst many Tibetans, critical of the director, Liu Depin, for what they perceive as a distortion of Tibetan culture and religion. Since the drama was broadcast on the state-run China Central Television (CCTV), in early January 2013 via CCTV channel 8 in prime time 7:00pm, the controversy has intensified, and somewhat inevitably, begun to turn political in nature.

The video was first uploaded anonymously onto Chinese video-hosting site Youku.com around February 3, 2013 but was taken offline within a day. Before it was “harmonised” however, it was shared widely by Tibetans on micro-blogging site Weibo.com and also uploaded onto YouTube where it can still be viewed. The screenshot below taken from Weibo.com shows how the video on Youku.com is no longer available for viewing and that on this particular Weibo thread, by the evening of February 3, it had been shared 119 times and received 49 comments. For English translations of some of the comments by Tibetan netizens, see Oiwan Lam’s post on Global Voices.

2013 02 13 RESPECT Weibo Screenshot

Screenshot from Weibo

As mentioned explicitly in the rap, “RESPECT” is not about politics or Tibetan independence, it is a clear demand by Tibetans for respect and, as such, it is a feisty and fun example of the “fish speaking back to ichthyologists”! For those confused by that idea, see our earlier post on Tibetan bloggers venting their anger about Chinese tourists in Tibet who they see as being disrespectful of local customs. With the rap “RESPECT”, the anonymous group are deliberately speaking back to everyone involved in the making of “Tibet’s Secret” in a language they would understand clearly (Chinese) and also in a very fluent and engaging style, right down to using the CCP favourite phrase “harmonious society” (somewhat ironically perhaps) in the last screen titles. The still photos in the video of the cast and crew have also been written over with slogans demanding for “Tibet’s Secret” to be banned and accuse the director Liu Depin of “destroying ethnic unity” (see screenshot below).

2013 02 13 RESPECT 1

“The Director is Destroying Ethnic Unity”

Interestingly, “RESPECT” samples a popular and culturally iconic Tibetan song called “Gangchenpa” by Dolma Kyap from 2006 that would be instantly recognised by any Tibetan listener, the chorus of “RESPECT” is directly lifted from “Gangchenpa” and the last line of the chorus is even sung in the original Tibetan. Literally translated, “Gangchen” means Land of Snows and a “Gangchenpa” is a person from the land of snows. In the rap, Tibet is also referred to as “Kawachen”, another way to say “Land of Snows”. In Tibetan songs, particularly from around that time, Tibet was rarely mentioned by name, see this example in our earlier commentary and translation of the 2006 song “Mentally Return”.

Check back next Wednesday for another powerful music video from Tibet and be sure to also go back and watch our other videos using this link: http://highpeakspureearth.com/category/music-from-tibet/

Below are the subtitled music video and translated lyrics of “RESPECT” by Sheep Droppings.

“RESPECT” By Sheep Droppings from HPeaks on Vimeo.

“RESPECT”
By Sheep Droppings

Ancient melodies are not performed with ancient instruments
After I am dead my beliefs will rescue my spirit
No longer do I want to look at it
Because I have long had enough of it
Look how ugly he portrays us
Firstly, you don’t respect us
I don’t care what your reasons are
But I cannot yield
And I cannot endure
Who can give me the power to punish this most evil criminal?!
Right now I only have words with which to riot
So here I’ll give you two words: ‘Blasted Idiot’
I do not care what you produce
But you should always be close to the truth
Just like my lyrics write the truth about yourself
Be more truthful and return me a blank piece of paper, your dumbness
Finally I will use my only possession, my consciousness
To wake up the pristine essence of our people.
I don’t have any other message, I just want to DISS
I only want to express KEEP ON PEACE

Oh… We are the people of the snow mountains
The snow mountain people I love
Oh… we are the Gangchenpa
The Gangchenpa I love

This isn’t about independence or separatism, this is about respect
We don’t need you to change history or change the facts
Uneducated and ignorant, mendacious and deceptive
Some idiots here betray us for their own advantage
They use false appearances to deceive us
F…ing Liu Debin, you make me speechless
Again and again you defame our people!
You are just a clown, even if this is a grand conspiracy
Don’t infringe on and slander Tibet’s thousands of years of history
Perhaps you are not afraid
Karma and retribution, life and death and reincarnation
We keep up our belief and the snow mountains will be our proof
Don’t use your filthy thoughts and ugly ideas, proving your ignorance
This is your story, watch your methods, this time it’s me to use words to abuse and attack you

Oh… We are the people of the snow mountains
The snow mountain people I love
Oh… we are the Gangchenpa
The Gangchenpa I love

Distorting history shows what you want, that you want a false reality
Knowing the real history only reveals our people’s intrinsic quality
Kawachen’s people are not weeping snow lions
The disgraceful show compiled by those without belief, where did you find these stories’ origins?
After birth you hold the name given by Buddha
On your forehead remains the stories of your ancestors
In your blood flows the story of Gesar
On your knife is engraved the willpower of Gangchenpa
I’m ashamed my traditional beliefs have been lost in parts
But I still keep the never setting sun in my heart
The fragrance of butter tea guides me to the beautiful moon far away
The butter lamps are like flickering stars in the night sky
Sons and daughters of the land of snows, the lion is on the eve of rising
Putting his palms together, silently reading out the ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ in his heart
Prostrates and goes on a pilgrimage towards the eagle flying far on the horizon
Incense burning on the mountain top
Saving the civilisation that is about to elapse

Oh… We are the people of the snow mountains
The snow mountain people I love
Oh… we are the Gangchenpa
The Gangchenpa I love

[Translation by High Peaks Pure Earth]

For those unable to view the videos on Vimeo, there is also a High Peaks Pure Earth YouTube channel here with our music videos: http://www.youtube.com/highpeakspureearth

6 Comments

  • Sheep Droppings? But doesn’t the alternative translation alliterate so much more nicely?

  • wow i was wondering what they were saying when i saw the rap in Chinese…. nice to read the translation and i salute for the courage of the rapper to write truth.