Hip-hop musician Gipsy appointed ambassador for minorities

Radoslav 'Gipsy' Banga and Dzamila Stehlikova, photo: CTK

The singer for the popular Czech Roma band Gipsy.cz, which plays an explosive mixture of hip-hop and traditional Romany music, has taken on a new - for his fans perhaps somewhat surprising - role. This week the minister in charge of human rights, Dzamila Stehlikova, appointed Gipsy.cz's Radoslav "Gipsy" Banga ambassador for minorities as part of the European Year of Equal Opportunities.

Radoslav 'Gipsy' Banga and Dzamila Stehlikova,  photo: CTK
Gipsy.cz are definitely at the height of their fame at the moment. After the launch of their debut album Romano Hip Hop last year, the group was voted best new band of the year in the Czech Republic. They were also the first Czech band to play at the famous Glastonbury Festival in Britain this summer and their song Romano Hip Hop was successful abroad, ranking among the top ten in the World Music Charts. But the band's singer, Radoslav Banga is about to find himself in a new role as ambassador for minorities. A little earlier I asked him what that meant.

"For me this means a big responsibility, of course, because I want to say I am not a politician, I am just a musician and I am just a man. But for me it's really a pleasure to represent minorities in the Czech Republic because I think this question has never been taken too seriously in this state. Primarily of course, the meaning of that action of the European Union is to represent all minorities, for example gender or religious minorities, so I am trying to represent all minorities."

As a musician does Gipsy think that music itself has the power to change things?

Radoslav 'Gipsy' Banga and Dzamila Stehlikova,  photo: CTK
"I think I can't really help anyone practically. What I know is that I can make the majority to listen. So I would like to really say something to the majority to make people listen. And I know that I am able to do it. So this is what I am going to do. Just to say that minorities in the Czech Republic are here and they are not taken really seriously. I think that music is a universal language it is much more universal than a language of politics, so I believe that if I say something like Dzamila Stehlikova, I can say it in a completely different way. I can say the same think but people are going to take it really in a different way."

With all the recent successes behind him, Gipsy certainly doesn't lack self-confidence and he is well aware that many young people, especially Roma, look up to him. There is little doubt that minorities in the Czech Republic have gained a strong voice to speak on their behalf:

"I can be a very good example for young Roma of course. For me, primarily, I know that I can help my nation to make it better here. And not only that of course. Young people are listening to our music. Gipsy. cz is one of the most popular groups in the Czech Republic today and that's a very good position of course."