In their song “Porn Face,” Myanmar rap duo Y.A.K. tears apart what group members Aye Aye Aung and Thazin Nyunt Aung call the stereotypical Southeast Asian woman — that is, “the pretty young woman who seeks out a rich older man to ‘sponsor’ her designer handbags and shopping trips to Bangkok.” The rest of their raps seem to follow a similar trajectory, rewriting their culture’s idea of femininity one song at a time.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Y.A.K. recorded “Porn Face” after facing traditionally beautiful and successful female singers in recording studios. Aye Aye, who goes by the moniker “Triple A,” explained that those women looked down upon them and wondered how they became successful, prompting the rap that is designed to “protest a lack of diverse female role models” in Myanmar.
Citing Missy Elliot and MC Lyte as their inspirations, as well as local rap collective Myanmar Hip-Hop Assn., Tripe A and Thazin said that they try to write songs that “elevate the status of women,” says “Women in the World.”
While the duo isn’t shy about the topics covered in their raps, 32-year-old Thazin shared that there are two things they will not write about: “No politics, no sex,” she said. “It was a very conservative place. It still is.”
Two years ago, Y.A.K. achieved mild Youtube success in their home country, but the LA Times says that the duo still performs at small clubs and international cultural centers in order to raise enough money to produce an album.
As Myanmar continues its political transition, Triple A and Thazin hope that their music gains wider acceptance and support from their home country.
Thank you, Thazin and Triple A, for working to change definitions of femininity through music and show us that it is okay to stray from the norm.