Finnish rapper Olli Monkare aka. “Opaali” is making waves in the music scene in Chiang Mai by connecting two worlds under one umbrella for the first time. The track “On Gang”, which is a result of a banger of a collaboration with home-grown Chiang Mai rap artist collective “Roof Gang”, was released five weeks ago on Opaali’s EP “Big Homie”, and rap fans and urban media from across the ocean in far-away Finland and are already going crazy for the track which is 80% in the Thai language. It’s only been one day since the video landed and it’s fast becoming a cult thing in Chiang Mai as well.
The idea for the collaboration happened five months ago when the Finnish rapper was introduced to the group of talented young Thai rappers. “As part of the push to bring my record label to Thailand, to mentor and sign up and coming hip hop artists, I was fortunate to form an instant bond with these guys, and the collaboration came naturally. The track was an instant hit and testament to the talent of these sick young artists.”
“I’ve put my money and time where my mouth is to back these guys up, but it turns out I’ve actually come out of the situation learning more from them than the other way round!” he adds.
Opaali initially moved to Chiang Mai 10 years ago in an attempt to put a tumultuous phase of drugs, deaths and debt behind him in his native Finland. He eventually found his peace in the city before returning to Finland where he started his indie record label ORW Inc. and hip hop clothing line www.orwincshop.com, which has now also been moved to its new home here in Chiang Mai.
“Hip hop is pretty new out here, but it’s growing at a ridiculous pace,” Opaali explains. “By offering up the right opportunities for those young artists to showcase their talents and hone their craft, I hope to keep the momentum going for what promises to be a thriving music culture in the city.”
Inga Louisa Stevens is a Freelance Journalist & Copywriter.