Cultured Beats – An Autoethnography Podcast into Mongolian Hip Hop Culture

Who am I in relation to my research? (Pitard, 2017)

Cultural Beats was created under the attempt of wanting to share my experience of exploring Mongolian hip hop. The modern phenomenon that stemmed from the transnational flow of media and technology into a post-communist country is interesting to me, and the culture that has burgeoned from it is full of history and meaning. The literature available to me to research into Mongolian hip hop culture is not so readily available, if there at all. My research has been from a select few academic sources, popular media, a documentary and connecting the dots through listening and reading others first hand experiences.

Methodology

My experience through creating Cultural Beats and my previous blog posts about Mongolian hip hop has been a methodology of firstly deciding on my topic. Mongolia is a part of Asia somewhat overlooked by most popular culture. I have a desire to do something different from most, so my decision was easy for me there. Music has always been something I love. The choice was simple to choose a culture that wasn’t well known but interested me in both ways. I started by just looking up “Mongolian hip hop” online, through Youtube and Spotify. But as explained in my previous blog posts, that only came up with a narrow field to explore. In hindsight I was being short sighted. Looking up “Mongolian hip hop” isn’t exactly going to find me bands, artists and songs that are the popular culture that is throughout Mongolia. My methodology was to relate my own experiences with music, my experience with the music I found and the research created and founded by others to use this as the data of my cultural experience (Campbell, 2015).

In most of the research papers I used to gain information, the artists I found and the music I discovered I found it a natural progression to be creative in my adaption of the content into a podcast. I felt like to understand myself, the context and meaning behind the culture it was necessary to explore the history, socially and political landscapes and the societal issues that plague modern Mongolia.

Analysis of my Research Process

To be analytical of my research into Mongolian hip hop I must make it clear my personal reflexivity and my epistemological reflexivity throughout my research process. My own personal values, life experiences and assumptions influenced my research and my methods (Pitard, 2017). I have a value of trust in the resources I find, as throughout my university career I feel like they have been trustworthy throughout the university library catalogue. I made the conscious decision to only source my academic resources through this vein of knowledge. I value the comfort of music genres I know and relate to (hip hop) and my life experience of a lifetime of music consumption fuels this. I also value knowledge and finding more about differing cultures than my own. These assumptions influenced my decision to study Mongolian hip hop. Epistemologically I have considered how researching my topic through purely online sources and platforms may have limited my research and possibly I would in future attempt to try different ways of gathering information.

Interpretation of the Literature

I interpreted the literature I found by going through it and selecting that which were the most important to analyse and curate into a legible podcast. As there were a lot of popular media focussing purely on Mongolian Bling (Binks, 2010) I needed to gather what I could that was more focussed on the culture as a whole, not as a summary or analysis of a documentary.

Epiphany

The point in my research that impacted on the trajectory of Mongolian hip hop was discovering just how deep the artists would be writing, and the context of their songs. The social and political factors that influenced their art made me realise that this was a topic that needed to be explored. I shifted the center of my understanding of what it is to have a hip hop culture in the western sense of the world to one that would embrace the complexity of other cultures and their takes on a hiphop culture and what causes it (Alsop, 2002).

What were some of the internal thoughts that I encountered as part of the experience?

Key internal thoughts I had during this assessment were about how difficult it was to relate to the meanings of the music due to the language barrier. Google translate was just not helpful. For instance to translate the band Санахын нэр into English from Google translate it would return “remember the name”. But if I would put “remember the name” into Google translate to Mongolian it would return with нэрийг нь санаарай. The unreliable nature of translating language that you cannot recognise well made it so hard to continually find artists and songs that would only appear in Mongolian cyrillic. I was also incredibly aware of how badly I could pronounce the names of Mongolian artists and songs, so I made the decision to avoid it if I could. This comes from a lack of my own variety of cultural influences. By acknowledging that my cultural background hinders my appreciation and understanding of the music I was listening to and context of the lyrics and how that made me feel, I have have made it clear that my research has been influenced by my emotional response to just pure music instead of words, and made it aware that I had these language setbacks.

How do my observations connect to my own personal past, culture and understanding?

As autoethnography seeks to describe and analyse personal experience to gain an understanding of the cultural experience (Ellis, et al. 2011). My experience with my research into Mongolian hip hop were influenced by my love of music and my own values of wanting to know more. The observations that I’ve made pertaining to my observations of Mongolian hip hop culture have been connected to my understanding of the history of the world (or at least what I know) and my own understanding of societal issues that have been explored in the music I listened to.
What did I find inspiring, frustrating, or enjoyable about this experience?

This whole experience including the blog posts, the research and creating the podcast have been enjoyable, if not slightly frustrating with the above mentioned language barrier. It was inspiring to watch, listen and read about the extraordinary lives of the Mongolian people, and the hip hop artists that have made this culture their life.

 

References for Podcast and Reflection

 

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