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Chinese Rap Wrap: (Fat) Shady’s Back

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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 to Watch

If you’ve been following this column, you might already be familiar with the Chengdu rap star Wang Yitai. Although he didn’t make it into the finale of last year’s Rap of China, Wang, aka 3Ho, has gained more than 1.5 million followers on Weibo, and his hit song “Mu Bu Zhuan Jing” went viral on the Chinese internet right after he performed it on the show. I still remember my hairdresser passionately sharing Wang’s songs on WeChat Moments every single week while the show was airing.

More recently, Wang Yitai, along with fellow Rap of China contestants After Journey and Air, was included in Forbes China’s “30 Under 30” list for music.

chengdu rapper wang yitai 3ho

Wang Yitai (aka 3Ho) – Yan, Shuo, Jia

While Wang Yitai has since shown up on mainstream variety shows like I’m CZR and Singer, he has never been far from the underground music scene where he started. In fact, he’s remained quite active in Chengdu hip hop circles, collaborating with musicians from different genres and regions. On October 10, he finally dropped his first official album Yan, Shuo, Jia, surprising fans with his creativity and philosophical thinking.

What may have surprised even more people was a cameo from Fat Shady — the gangster rapper who claimed to have a big announcement five months ago, but who subsequently disappeared from social media — in a music video for a track off Wang’s album, “Hai Mei Xiang Hao” (“Haven’t Thought It Through”). Same tough look, still flexing wealth, no explanation given — the guest verse by Fat Shady (who recently renamed himself BO$$ X) is not even subtitled, unlike Wang’s verses in the video.

Fat Shady actually dropped two new singles on NetEase a few days back: “Fendi Facts,” featuring his labelmate and music director Lil Castles from No.4 Music, and produced by Peyote Beats; and “Keep Doing,” featuring Chengdu melodic rapper BB-Eight. On the latter, both rappers mention “CDC” in their verse. This could be a reference to the legendary local crew that Fat Shady said was disbanding in May, before his social media silence, or just a general shoutout to Chengdu City. Either way, one thing is clear: Shady’s back.

New Chinese Rap Releases of Note

The talented Guangzhou/Beijing-based rapper and hip hop aficionado, AR, dropped his first full album at the beginning of this year. On October 23, he released the official music video for a song off the album, “All That,” and a remix of the same song featuring Straight Fire Gang, a young, passionate and popular trio, as well as Nanjing-based OG MC Guang. In the last line of his rewritten lyrics, AR announces that his second album is coming out on November 30, and that he will “will not stand [the fans] up.”

Young Chengdu rapper and USC graduate PO8, who failed in front of guest judges Migos during last year’s Rap of China US audition, has risen step by step since then, through delicate music and poetic yet critical lyrics. His second studio EP, Taikong Zhan (Space Station), recently dropped, backing up the explanation for his name: “Poet with a pistol (MGC LUGER P-08).”

Underground Chinese Rap

Hip Hop Award China — the country’s only hip hop-centric awards program, which has been active since 2008 — announced this past week that it would cease operations. In a Weibo announcement, the founder and former street dancer Come Lee recapped how the award was formed and organized, as well as the difficulties that he and his team cannot overcome any longer: fundraising, winner selection, voting, booking artists, and an overall unstable environment. In the past, some hip hop lovers criticized the award’s selection method, complaining that it was not transparent enough. But it’s a shame that we now don’t have a dedicated award for China’s rappers, producers, dancers, DJs, and promoters.

Listen Up, an underground rap competition and another brand within Come Lee’s Hip Hop Fusion cultural promotion platform, still seems to be continuing the struggle to give rap hopefuls another small, yet accessible stage.

Big Beef: Indigo Children vs “Whole of Humanity”

Over the past two weeks, a tremendous beef between multiple young crews has taken shape, triggered by a diss track made by Yunnan rapper Huang Zhao from the label PINGXI Music. Huang took aim at the new iQIYI-favored rapper FOX, who is filming a new variety show called Fashion Partners in Tokyo with Kris Wu, Will Pan, and Angelababy.

FOX, a popular contestant on this year’s third season of Rap of China, has done well in the mainstream following his appearance on the show, gaining millions of followers. His crewmates, who are still semi-underground, have been quick to defend him against Huang’s initial attack — his fellow Walking Dead crew-mate (and Rap of China S03 winner) KeyNG, Pharaoh, JarStick, notoriously patriotic rapper Pissy, Real, Swang of the Horse King crew, and Young Paine have all entered the fray on FOX’s behalf.

On the PINGXI Music side, crew members Kisos, national champion of Listen Up 2019, and Lan Xiaochen also quickly reacted with more anti-FOX diss tracks. After that, former Walking Dead members Indigo Children dropped individual diss tracks against not only PINGXI Music, but “the whole of humanity.”

Nevertheless, this seemingly endless beef ultimately ended in mutual respect. And it was impressive to see how productive these young talents could be — we’re looking forward to more high-quality works getting produced and dropped by them before long.

Cover photo: Wang Yitai (NetEase Cloud Music/CGTN)

More Chinese Rap Wrap:

Chinese Rap Wrap: Meet the “Indigo Children” Weirding Up China’s Cloud Rap Scene

Chinese Rap Wrap: Key NG Wins “Rap of China” S03 as Kris Wu Launches Hip Hop Label

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

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