Prach Ly: THE KING OF KHMER RAP
All he wanted was to have some fun, Prach Ly constantly explains, sipping on iced tea in a restaurant just across from Long Beach's Polytechnic High School. We're just a few yards off Anaheim Street, the heart of Little Phnom Penh—just as Little Saigon is the biggest enclave of Vietnamese outside Vietnam, this busy and vibrant area boasts the largest community of Cambodians outside Cambodia. It's pretty mixed, actually, with nearby black and Latino neighborhoods further peppering the cultural stew.
That's how he found hip-hop, Prach says. He grew up in Long Beach near a park where kids would come to battle one another freestyle, to see who had the better rhymes. Prach felt he had to represent his people, so he'd join in. He was good, and he soon moved up to rapping at parties. He even made some money.
"I'd get paid $100 for 10 minutes of stuff. Can't beat that!" he says between tea gulps. "I was just a kid. But then gangsta rap was getting big, and everybody started rapping about that—drugs and guns and cars and girls—which I wasn't into doing, so I had to kind of divide myself away a bit."
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