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Daily Drip

Chinese Hip Hop Musicians React to Black Lives Matter Protests in the US

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In the aftermath of the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, people across the USA have been protesting police brutality and urging justice and freedom for black people around the world. Across social media platforms, supporters of Black Lives Matter have been sharing stories, images and insights.

Many have compared scenes of protests in the US to those that have been ongoing in Hong Kong for over a year. Meanwhile, others have been quick to point out the years of collaboration between Black Americans and China, such as the visits taken by W.E.B Du Bois and Black Panther leaders Elaine Brown and Huey Newton to the country.

Related:

From W.E.B. Du Bois to the Panthers: A History of Black Americans in China

Such references have often been made while encouraging Asian communities to also stand up for Black Lives Matter and associated organizations. But what of China’s hip hop community, one that has explicitly benefited from Black culture? As is being excellently documented on Twitter by Chinese hip hop news account, RISING! CHINESE HIP HOP (@rapofchina), a number of musicians have shown their support for the movement.

Among some of the more notable contributions, Asian-American rapper MC Jin took to Instagram to tell the story of his son, Chance, seeing a broadcast of the news report on George Floyd’s death. He ends the lengthy post by saying, “I told him, maybe you can include a message that you think he would want the world to know. Not only was he eager to include that but suggested, ‘We should also make sure people know his name.’ Indeed son. Indeed.”

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I was watching a news update on the senseless murder (yet another) of George Floyd, and Chance happened to come out into the living room. For a moment, I considered shielding him from the graphic images on the TV screen but before I could say anything he responded with anger and frustration at what his 7 year old eyes and ears were seeing and hearing. "Don't the police hear him? He can't breathe…" Imagine a child having the discernment to see that something unimaginably cruel was unfolding while so many grown ups are still either in denial or absolutely oblivious that there is something extremely wrong with the current policing system, particularly as it pertains to the African-American community. As heavy as it sits on my heart and mind, I can't imagine how much more despair and pain it causes them seeing such a vicious cycle. After we finished his daily homeschool work, I asked Chance, would you like to do a drawing in memory of the man who lost his life? I told him, maybe you can include a message that you think he would want the world to know. Not only was he eager to include that but suggested, “We should also make sure people know his name.” Indeed son. Indeed. #ripgeorgefloyd🌹🕊

A post shared by MC Jin (@iammcjin) on

Label 88rising — whose artists include Higher Brothers and Rich Brian — has also posted its support of Black Lives Matter, noting the end of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, while calling for awareness for equality everywhere.

Higher Brothers themselves posted the same picture in support of the protests. Rapper Bohan Phoenix took to Instagram to point out connections between the black community and Chinese community.

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It was the famous African American singer Paul Robeson who introduced “Qi Lai 起来 (To Rise)” – the Chinese national anthem- to the U.S. in 1941 when he performed it live in Harlem while raising funds for China’s resistance movement. This was 8 years before “Qi Lai” officially became the national anthem of China. I wanted to share this today because over the years I’ve learned that the Chinese and black community have often been there to support each other, and now more than ever we need to stand together. I owe my life to Hip Hop, I owe everything I do to black culture and the beauty of this music, and it fuckin kills me to see the recent events unfolding along the covid crisis… Donate to @mnfreedomfund if you can, every dollar counts. Justice for George Floyd. Justice for all those who have suffered the same fate. Love each other y’all, it’s not too late. ❤️❤️ (Thanks to @radii.china for this article, they do a great job at demystifying China for the audience in the West) | 中国国歌在正式成为国歌的八年前就由知名的美国黑人歌手Paul Robeson在美国哈林区歌唱过, Robeson表演这首歌是为了给抗战时期的中国集资筹款, 这也是这首歌第一次被引进美国。在过去的几年我不断的学习和了解中国人与黑种人在历史上的互相帮助,所以我想在今天分享这个, 现在是最需要我们团结起来的时候了。 我的生活是嘻哈所给的, 黑人文化和这种美妙的音乐风格给予了我所有的一切, 最近的事情加上疫情的影响让我伤心欲绝。 如果有能力请给 @mnfreedomfund 捐款。George Floyd 需要正义, 像他一样遭遇的人都需要正义。 互关互爱永远都不晚。(感谢@radii.china 写的文章,对西方读者掀开了中国的本来样子)

A post shared by BOHAN 博涵 (@bohanphoenix) on

He also posted an insightful Tweet that further outlined the shared history between both communities, referencing this RADII article.

Beijing-based rapper and producer Bloodz Boi noted his contribution to the cause on Twitter. If you want to follow his example, you can donate to the Black Lives Matter Global Network right here and to bail-out funds across the US here.

BloodzBoi was also one of the few to take to a Chinese social media platform (in his case Weibo) in an attempt to explain the situation and his support for BLM. AR was another, who referenced Kendrick Lamar and Tupac Shakur in his post.

Eastern Margins, a music collective based in London, posted these thoughtful pictures on Instagram:

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Black Lives Matter.

A post shared by Eastern Margins (@easternmargins) on

They also pointed towards Music Black Out Tuesday, an initiative that music industry leaders will be undertaking, pausing all business for a day “in observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.” That initiative is being led by music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, according to CNN.

Jay Park and Cha Cha Malone’s record label H1GHR MUSIC is one of those to declare support for the day on China’s microblogging site Weibo, where the company’s official accounted posted using the Black Lives Matter hashtag.

Canadian-born Hong Kong actor and singer Edison Chen posted this image on his Instagram page:

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YELLOWPERILSUPPORTSBLACKPANTHERS

A post shared by Edison Chen (@edcee3000) on

And Tia Ray, who is set to appear on new music variety show, Rap Star, posted an image to her Instagram that reads, “The world needs love,” without specifically addressing the protests:

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🌍

A post shared by TIA RAY (@tiarayray) on

However, some have pointed out that numerous artists and labels with considerable China followings could be doing a lot more right now. Here’s former RADII Culture Editor Josh Feola:

Bryan Grogan
    Bryan is RADII's Culture Editor. He is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with an interest in health, technology, science, the arts, culture and everything in between.