3 min read · May 19, 2022
There was once a young boy who lived with his grandparents in the countryside, helping them care for their herds. His uncle who lived in the city sent him cassets from time to time. The boy listened to the cassets every night before going to sleep and during the day while out at pasture with the animals. As he listened to the cassets with hip hop hits and modern songs he was amazed. For this boy, hip hop sounded familiar and close to his heart. Why? He couldn't explain.
I first stumbled upon his music while surfing the internet for something else and immediately I was awestruck. Drawn in, before I knew it, I had listened to about ten songs, including Tuya, Denjin Nogoo, Welcome to Ulaanbaatar, Groove me Baby, Makin’ Love, and De Janeiro. His music is uplifting and makes one want to just sit and listen for days. While the melodies are somewhat similar to familiar foreign and Mongolian songs, the weaving together of old and new sounds and beats struck me as rare and unique.
There aren’t many artists who can take a sampling of the Mongolian music scene and combine the harmonies and melodies with their individual interpretation to produce something new. I want to introduce you today to an artist by the name of Bodikhuu who has managed to revive melodies and vocals his own way, extracting from them brand new rhythms.
Bodikhuu, or C. Munkhbaatar has already released his 6th album. His music provides fans of the underground Hip Hop and Jazz Hip Hop genres new and fresh beats. He entered the world of music first as a young boy growing up in herding community, then through traveling bands and hip hop singers. Growing up with between two cultures gives him the ability to combine both old and new to create something totally unique, as is evident in his songs.
Even when he worked as a goldsmith, security guard, and later, a crane operator, he stayed true to his love of music and sought to convey his story on an individual level. In order to create this type of music one must not only be sensitive but have high potential, as well.
Bodikhuu stands out from the rest by his self-publishing. He started off by listening to hip hop and gangster rap and learning the songs. From these songs he cleaned the melodies and parts without vocals and began to put them together to make something new. He has been doing sampling in this way since 2011.
From 2011-2013, Bodikhuu worked in collaboration with Dund Gol studios on over 50 classic Mongolian songs. During this time, he perfected his craft and produced his Welcome to Ulaanbaatar album. He followed with albums called Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. It’s important to understand Bodikhuu’s method for making music is not remixing. It’s more like a creative way of deconstructing a melody and rebuilding it into something completely new. In an interview on buro247.mn he said, "I don’t make music on a computer. I take 30 or 40 second bits of my favorite melodies from the 1990s and upload them onto an MPC program where I separate them into one or two second-long segments. By uploading the beats and melodies onto the MPC program I am able to then use them to create music to my own liking, adding drum beats and sounds."
The first album Bodikhuu heard when he came to Ulaanbaatar from the far western Uvs was “Gang Star”. He wondered how jazz could be played to a hip hop beat and it was this though that led him to the song Хөдөөгийн сайн талыг зорино, (To the beautiful countryside I go) by the band Soyol Erdene. He took a sample of this song and added his own touch. This is how the song Huduu (Countryside) was born.
All he did was follow his feeling and desire. Some people do not understand the art behind music sampling. Maybe it’s because they are used to the original sounds and therefore prefer them. Many see any new renditions as imitations of something already in existence. But if one considers the amount of time put into each music sampling, it’s easy to see that the final outcome is indeed a new work. There are many nuances that the average listener is not aware of. It may take a while, but as time passes I am sure that Bodikhuu’s music will touch many as he continues doing what he loves—creating something new from familiar and beloved melodies and rhythms.