D. Enkhtaivan. 26/11/1976 – 14/12/2012

D. Enkhtaivan died yesterday.

Many young Mongolians will know him as MCIT, member of the hip hop group War and Peace.

Others will know him as a talented photographer.

I know him as one of the stars of Mongolian Bling, Gennie’s producer and the godfather of Mongolian hip hop.

Enkhtaivan as MCIT in War and Peace

I met Enkhtaivan in 2006 whilst researching the film. In a studio deep inside a Soviet office block, we sat down for what I thought would be a brief chat. Three hours later I was still discovering the world of Enkhtaivan and Mongolia’s hip hop history.

Enkhtaivan grew up in Chingeltei, a ger district in the north of Ulaanbaatar. He dreamt of being a pilot and collected magazines and journals about planes. However he struggled at school and one day at a medical check up, he discovered that his eyesight was bad.

“That is why my grades got worse; I couldn’t see well from the back of the class and couldn’t understand the subject. That’s when my dream to become a pilot fell apart.”

With a father who was a photographer, Enkhtaivan eagerly took up photography. He’d photograph movie posters, print off small versions and sell them to make money. A few years later when photographic paper and developing chemicals became hard to find, his interest shifted to music.

Dance groups started appearing and he soon had the idea to recreate this music.

“At that time, Mongolia was a sheet of white paper. Anything you did was new.  That’s when the roots of hip hop started as a dance. Our band was one of the bands that were established around then.  We wrote both the lyrics and the music of our songs.”

War and Peace

He teamed up with Dashaa, XL, MC Aav, BZ and AZ and together they created Dain Ba Enkh – War and Peace – Mongolia’s first hip hop band. Enkhtaivan went by the name MCIT.

“We sang about relationships, the situation in the society and through our songs we tried to give suggestions on what brings happiness.”

Their first hit was called Unstoppable, which came out in January 1998. The radio stations only played ballads, traditional songs and pop, and the band had to beg for them to play it. But finally their pleading payed off and they heard their song on the airwaves.

“We were really surprised. We went to the radio station and were really excited. People started requesting us and we were really proud. We won a nomination for the best debut band.”

 

Dain Ba Enkh became more and more popular with each song, and after a year of writing, recording and rapping at live performances, they held their first concert the following winter in early 1999.

“We prepared a lot for our concert. We made pictures and advertisements for it and spread them over the city.  It was winter and we had to go around night and day sticking up the posters using yellow shoe glue. But next morning when we come and see the posters, people had torn them down.’

“The concert was only rap songs and people were getting bored of it.  During that time, to understand that kind of song was almost impossible. People were not that really interested in that kind of thing.”

War and Peace performing

However slowly they grew in popularity and as their young fans grew up, hip hop became accepted. More and more people related to the music as rappers would sing about their surroundings.

“All the meanings – sorrow, struggling, sufferings – were beside us. It was easy for us to find a theme for our songs cause we used to get into trouble, get beaten by the police, see street children, live under confusing governments… we really lived in our songs.”

While they built a strong following, their music still wasn’t mainstream, and one by one, the group disbanded.

“Our members started to have wives and families so our lives started to change a lot. But we had no regrets. We’d made our songs, we had them recorded. It was part of our lives. But we couldn’t make it into a good business so we ended up with money problems and as time went by, we got bored of it and we quit to do other jobs.”

One of Enkhtaivan’s photos

Enkhtaivan’s other job was a photographer, but he still kept in the loop with the scene and when I met him in 2006, he’d become disillusioned with the local scene.

“Mongolian hip hop has a good look, but has less meaning.”

Wanting change and more meaningful lyrics, Enkhtaivan returned to the hip hop scene as a producer. He started working with some of the country’s most talents emerging artists, hoping to introduce them to the Asian hip hop scene. One of these artists was Gennie.

Gennie and Enkhtaivan

“Gennie has a clear look and well-understanding about what her future will be and what she can achieve. She loves rapping, she’s passionate about it and she works hard. That’s what I like in her.”

Over the next five years, we had the fortune to hang out with Enkhtaivan as he worked with Gennie.

We spent time with him as he guided her and other young rappers, always calm and patient with them, nurturing them as they expressed their take on Mongolian life.

He shaped Mongolian music and inspired a generation of artists.

It’s a sad day here at Mongolian Bling and our love goes out to his family, friends and fans.

8 Responses to “D. Enkhtaivan. 26/11/1976 – 14/12/2012”

  1. Mariani says:

    Very sorry to hear of Enkhtaivan’s passing. I am grateful to have had a chance to ‘meet him’ in Mongolian Bling. My heart goes out to his loved ones. May his spirit fly. Marianij

  2. Odnyam says:

    Rest in Peace… It’s so sorrowful. God gets a good people firstly. You always include in our heart.
    Sincerly, Odnyam…

  3. aibo says:

    R.I.P
    Харамсал илэрхийлье.

  4. baagii says:

    I so sorry to hear thi sad news. As wise old Monfolians ay, the best of the humans lways go first, the bad ones survive because they make so much sin that the GoD does not know where to put them – into hell or Heaven.

    I never mett these people nut as a Mongolian American (yes, we exist) I do follwo Mongolia related news on the internet and i read alot about this new documentary. I look forward to wtach it as I am very interested in the Mongolian music heritage. It is incredibly hard to convince Americans that deep in the heart of Central and inner Asia – Mongolia, the youth are intrested in hip hope and they have even their own stars, and resoably good songs and performers. Your movie will help me to spread he news to ignorant Cailforinian that we-Mongolians have a very sophisticated musical heritage and taste. And hip hope may have had shamnistic roots as the doc claims because the chanting is is similar.

    May Enhkhee – Enhtaiwan’s common Mongolian nick name rest in peace. Mongolia will remember you. May all Mighty Buddha and Shamans help you to get into the Heaven and reborn in your beloved Mongolia – the country of eternal blue sky and land of legendary worriars, and learned lamas, and freedom-loving people.

    Um mani pad ni hum (The Tibetan mantra for dead people)).

    baagii, from San Francisco California.

  5. Enkhbayar says:

    Taiwan noirsdoo. Bidnii toloo hiisen buhen tani monhod duursagdah bolno.

  6. So sad to lose a fellow photographer. I just watched the Mongolian Bling documentary. It was beautiful.

    I was inspired to go searching for ENKHTAIVAN after hearing his music. Sad to find out that he passed away. Is there any way to find his music (or Gennie’s) in the US?

  7. Erdene says:

    R.I.P Enkhtaivan …

  8. […] thanked everyone straight after the film and made special mention of Enkhtaivan, dedicating the screening to him but I was surprised when his parents approached with a bunch of flowers. It must have been an […]