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Chinese Rap Wrap: Off-Screen Beefs Sizzle as Rap of China S03 Exceeds Expectations

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Chinese Rap Wrap is a bi-weekly RADII column that focuses on the Chinese hip hop scene, featuring the freshest talents, hottest new tracks, and biggest beefs from the world of Chinese rap.

Chinese Rappers and Crews to Watch

Capper, a 19-year-old member of young Xi’an crew Lazyair, and a champion of Taiyuan’s Underground 8 Mile freestyle battle, surprised Rap of China viewers last week with his 1-vs-1 round with 20-year-old Tianjin boom-bap rapper VOB, as well as a collaboration with veteran rapper Damnshine from Changsha’s C-Block crew:

The impromptu duo was part of a paired elimination, in which both contestants could only get through to the next round if their collaboration got four “Passes” from the show’s four groups of judges — Capper and Damnshine easily made the cut.

Elsewhere on Rap of China, 21-year-old Last King LX (Liu Xuanting), who came through the leader of the program’s Australian auditions, has also emerged as a dark horse this season, having only started rapping one year ago.

Related:

Where are They Now? “Rap of China” S01 Champs Hit the Silver Screen and Beef Online

Chengdu-based rapper Noisemaker, aka Li Kui (a hero’s name from Romance of the Three Kingdoms),has also been making waves on Rap of China S03. The Ghana-born, UK-raised rapper’s music and skits long ago made him an internet celebrity on TikTok and Weibo, and he’s now made it through the audition, 1-vs-1 60-second elimination, and paired elimination rounds of this year’s contest, impressing judges and audiences with his Sichuan-dialect rap. The only other non-Chinese contestant to make it past auditions, Blue from South Korea, raps in Chinese as well, but was eliminated in the 60-second round.

Generally speaking, Rap of China Season 3 is exceeding (low) expectations so far, with a slightly rejigged format and a playing up of beefs and conflicts (more on that below). Even Guangdong wordplay master AR, who dissed Kris Wu and the show with “The Emperor’s New Clothes” last year, took to Weibo to say: “this [show] looks pretty good…”

Chinese Rap in the Mainstream

Leo Wang, a young member of Taiwan hip-hop label KAOINC who dropped out of university to pursue his music dream, won “Best Male Vocalist, Mandarin” at the 30th Golden Melody Awards. This is the first time a rapper has beaten out pop stars in this category at any major Chinese music award ceremony.

New Chinese Rap Releases of Note

Shanghai-based Kazakh R&B/soul musician Akin and his long-time music partner, producer and DJ Visudy, dropped a collaborative EP called luv letter on July 8. According to one commenter on streaming platform NetEase, listening to the EP’s three tracks is “like drinking and getting tipsy.”

Related:

Xinjiang R&B Artist Akin on Bilingual Songwriting and Breaking Out of His Cultural Box

Before Shanghai OG Cee dropped the first ever album of his 17 year career, Overthrow, on July 3, another Shanghai hip hop veteran, Keyso, also teased a new project. The touching promotional track, “Xiang (Hometown),” features Keyso’s 4-year-old son on the hook as well as traditional opera elements. The track was rolled out as part of the promotion for Daughter of Shanghai, a documentary about Tsai Chin, one of the first Chinese actresses to break out in the US and Europe. Daughter of Shanghai hit theaters on July 2.

Chinese Rap Overseas

Former members of popular Xi’an crew HHH members have been busy overseas recently. PG One –or Wang Hao, as he prefers to be called now — kicked off his Hello World tour in Hong Kong last month, where fellow Rap of China Season 1 star VaVa showed up for support. Meanwhile, the rest of HHH’s ex-members — who have regrouped under the name GDLF Music — just announced that the new crew will embark on a “Red Flower Torch 2019 Tour” in South Korea next month.

Beefs: KFC, Nicki Minaj and Lawyers

Inside the new season of Rap of China, the competition seems a lot more intense. And outside the show, there are definitely more beefs.

Guangdong battle rapper MC Rocket (fka Eslie), who’s been receiving recognition in Guangdong underground battle circles since she was 16, dissed another contestant, Free C, after the latter brought a basketball to the Rap of China auditions — a move that seemed fake to Rocket. After that episode aired, the conflict between the two rappers escalated into a full-blown beef. Rocket challenged Free C to a battle at Underground 8 Mile, and dropped a diss track, “KFC”, two days later:

Rocket’s “big sister” BIGhimi, from the same crew (Gui Hua Men), followed that up with another Free C diss track, “Chun-Li’s Nightmare”. After supposedly being defamed by some dirty rumors, and accused of plagiarizing Nicki Minaj’s “Chun-Li” on the show (watch from 1:20 below), Free C announced that she’d soon be involving a lawyer.

This might be the first time a public beef between female Chinese rappers has reached such a high (or low) point. We hope more female rappers will let the music speak for itself, like Cloudy Tunnel‘s Miko, who came back to Rap of China after a year away and proved herself via superior rapping skills and flows.

Another beef kicked off after the last episode of Rap of China aired on July 5, this one between Shandong rapper Boc and Chengdu veteran Kafe.Hu. The two collaborated in the paired elimination round, but got four “Fails” from the judges, and thus were both eliminated. Boc dropped two diss tracks blaming Kafe.Hu, who he  used to be Boc’s high school role model. Boc said he let Kafe.Hu choose a tricky beat for the paired elimination round because he trusted his taste, but Boc alleged that Kafe.Hu didn’t prepare well enough, and later deleted Boc as a WeChat contact. Kafe quickly hit back with an a cappella verse.

Related:

“There Was Basically Zero Hip Hop”: Sichuan Rap Pioneer Kafe Hu Talks History, Fatherhood, and Changing Times

Finally: Wuhan-based rapper Big Dog (aka Wang Ke), who won three Iron Mic championships before going on to manage the national freestyle battle, was publicly accused of sexual harassment against a female rapper, BabyCAT, in a Guangzhou hotel room after using drugs. The rap veteran responded that he’d sent legal cease and desist letters to influential social media accounts that he claimed helped to spread what he maintains is “slander.”

More Chinese Rap Wraps:

Chinese Rap Wrap: Shanghai OG Cee Returns with New Doc, “Rap of China” New Crop Gets Battle Tested

Chinese Rap Wrap: PG One Rebrands, as Snoop and Higher Brothers Get the Munchies

The Chinese Rap Wrap: Influential Hip Hop Collective CDC Falls Apart Amid Eminem Collab Rumors

Cover image: Damnshine (大傻) and Capper

Fan Shuhong
    Shuhong (aka Rita) is a language instructor, English/Chinese translator, writer, and proud bunny owner based in Beijing. She's previously worked in Washington D.C. and IUP at Tsinghua University. She loves Chinese language, Japanese arts, post-rock music and good English TV series. Instagram: rita_van