Rapper VannDa has smashed a new record to become the first Cambodian artist to hit 100 million YouTube views with his viral video ‘Time to Rise’.
Laura Mam, CEO of talent management company Baramey Production, said ‘Time to Rise’ was made possible after being inspired by musician Arn Chorn-Pond, the founder of Cambodian Living Arts.
Laura recalled a time when she was told that "original music is impossible". She had a conversation with Chorn-Pond, who said some businesses do not value Khmer traditional arts and think of it as low-class, which is a shame.
“With those words, he inspired me to do something about it!” Laura said on her Facebook page.
Laura said as she reflects on this memory, she realizes there have always been people who do not feel comfortable with the idea of “Khmer Greatness”.
“I now understand it was scary to them because of how easy it is to fail. Perhaps it may have felt like we have already lost enough,” Laura said. “But after today, I now believe even more strongly than before that we are only getting started.”
‘Time to Rise’ features VannDa, or Vannda Mann, and famous Chapei singer Master Kong Nay at the National Museum.
“The amazing Lok Kruu Kong Nay and Vannda said it right here, it is "TIME TO RISE!" and the people agreed with them 100 MILLION TIMES! So, let's rise, Cambodia and thank you for believing with all of us at Baramey,” Laura said.
Laura said the 100 million views have been verified and she is speechless.
Chorn-Pond said on Tuesday that he is proud and happy that the music video has been a great success, thanking Laura and Baramey for providing creativity in music.
“100 million views is not normal,” Chorn-Pond told Kiripost. “People will admire us, that we create something new and promote traditional music with modern music; that they go together,” he added.
Chorn-Pond also urged artists to stop stealing other people’s work and called on companies to invest more money in original works.
“We must stop stealing other people’s work,...they must be creative, so that ancient and modern music comes together. This is our national identity and roots. We must quit stealing. We can lie to others but we can’t lie to ourselves,” he added.
VannDa could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. However, in an interview with Vice magazine in July, VannDa, who is from Preah Sihanouk province, said he got into the music industry by singing love songs because Cambodians are easily into these songs. Later on, he became more open to new ideas.
VannDa said that he started singing when he was 19-years-old after following his lifelong dream.
“My family wanted me to become a lawyer or a doctor, but that’s not me. So, I came to Phnom Penh to explore my passion, to find my voice. That’s how I became the VannDa I am these days,” he told Vice. “They didn’t think I would be here long but I showed them. I did not go back.”
Contacted by telephone on Tuesday, Nay seemed surprised to hear about the 100 million views. However, he said he is unable to communicate further as he is forgetful and sick. He currently lives in Kampot.
Nay’s grandchild Kang Bora,16, said he has watched ‘Time to Rise’ and believes this is the first time a Cambodian artist has achieved this.
“I think this is the only one in Cambodia,” Bora told Kiripost. “I think it is because it mixes rap and Chapei, so this looks cool.”