Tag Archives | Dangdut

The King of Dangdut

Let’s meet Rhoma Irama, “the King of Dangdut.”
Dangdut music emerged in the mid 1970s from the poorer areas of Jakarta as a politically astute style that blended Islamic, Indian and Malaysian traditional musics with American rock. After developing a decent career performing light-hearted songs, in the mid ’70s Rhoma Irama began expressing his Islamic faith and conservative morals through his lyrics, even as his music veered more toward American rock. National Geographic describes Irama’s stage persona at the time: “the King of Dangdut, dressed in a tight black tanktop, headband, leather pants, gloves and boots, and playing a black flying-V guitar, sweatily glistening in heavy-metal dangdut glory–certainly a far cry from the bubblegum, coy flirtatiousness of the heavily made-up teen dangdut singers of the genre’s early years.” The government of Indonesia feared a politicized, primarily poverty-stricken dangdut audience would become a threat, so they banned Irama from appearing on state television.  Irama has continued to be famous, musical and moralistic, using his music to sway elections, even while being mired in controversy.