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(April 29, 2022) The local politics of Thai soft power

It was yet another passing storm in Thailand's overflowing teacup. The overnight sensation of 19-year-old rapper Danupha "Milli" Khanatheerakul at the recent Coachella Music Festival in the United States has shaken Thailand to its core foundations and revealed much that is still right and all that is wrong with this country. At issue are the ramifications from her global showcase of Thailand's sticky rice and ripe mango on the Coachella stage in view of her talent and political standing against the local conservative establishment.

To be sure, Milli shot to international fame well before her famous sticky rice and mango performance. As a high schooler, she had already won a clutch of accolades, including as a "rising star" at the 2020 KAZZ Awards, the 2020 Rap Is Now Awards, and "Best New Asian Artist" at the Mnet Asian Music Awards 2020. Having attended a non-pedigree high school in the northern Bangkok outskirts of Nonthaburi, Milli was self-taught and captivated widening audiences at home and abroad all on her own.