Thailand’s very own rapper “Milli” is the only Thai national to make it on the BBC 100 Women 2022 list, which features 100 “inspiring and influential women from around the world.”
Bangkok-born Danupha “Milli” Khanatheerakul rose to fame after appearing on the popular Thai TV show The Rapper 2 in 2019.
Milli’s 2020 single “Pak Korn” (Calm Down) was a hit in Thailand, carrying a meaningful anti-bullying message which included lyrics in Thai, Lu, Isan, and English language.
The young rapper, who just turned 20 years old, was widely praised for publicly criticising Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the government’s poor response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Milli’s anti-governmental espousals saw her fighting a defamation case in which she was accused of “threatening national security.” Milli faced up to five years in prison.
However, even PM Prayut praised Milli for being the first Thai solo artist to perform at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival earlier this year.
Upon finishing her performance at Coachella, Milli famously ate a bowl of mango sticky rice on stage, promoting Thailand’s “soft power.” The popularity of the dish skyrocketed in Thailand after the stunt.
This is what the BBC has to say about Milli…
“Artist and songwriter Danupha Khanatheerakul, better known by her stage name Milli, uses controversial lyrics to address issues such as unrealistic beauty standards and sexual consent. She raps in multiple languages and dialects, also incorporating slang from Thailand’s transgender community. She recently announced her first debut album called BABB BUM BUM.
She became a viral sensation at the Coachella festival this year by challenging Thai stereotypes and the government, as well as eating mango sticky rice onstage, a traditional Thai dessert. Last year she faced defamation charges for criticising the Thai government’s Covid-19 response. As a result, the hashtag #SaveMilli trended.”
In September, Milli was denied entry into South Korea and was forced to cancel her scheduled performance in Seoul.
South Korea’s immigration got stricter on Thais this year after thousands entered Korea as tourists, illegally worked, and never returned home (people who do this are known as “Pee Noi” or “Little Ghosts” in Thai).
In August, 110 Thais on one flight to the South Korean island of Jeju were denied entry. Of those 110, 71 were detained at the border for four days and deported back to Thailand.