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.
After members of GO$H including GAI, Bridge and Watch Me received public recognition in the last two seasons of Rap of China, the Chongqing-based rap crew has become widely known with its famous slogan in Chongqing dialect: “Le Si Wu Du (This is the Foggy City).” And this year, fellow crew member Wudu has finally hit the the mainstream stage, making it into Rap of China season 3’s final 8.
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Wudu Montana, aka L4WUDU, started to make trap music in 2011, back when he was still in high school. He became further immersed in hip hop after he went to study at Michigan State University. His first EP, Wu Du Ye Hua, dropped in 2015. On it, he presents Chongqing city life in the form of Chinese trap, bringing some new elements from southwest China’s musical sensibility. He joined GO$H via his schoolmate and later crew mate Turbo, and has since been trying more experimental urban music under GO$H’s banner.
Wudu performed his latest, “You Le Chang (Playground),” on last week’s episode of Rap of China as a member of Kris Wu’s team. He was voted out in the 1v1 round by the audience afterwards, but apparently he did what he meant to do on the show, telling the camera: “What I’m trying to do is not about me — I’m trying to promote something.” He later added: “I’m here, on this kind of platform, to show the newest thing, something that has never been heard.”
The unexpected wave of Chinese rappers speaking out on Hong Kong continues. Some are trolling on social media, while others are expressing their opinions in their music.
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Besides CD Rev’s “Hong Kong’s Fall,” mysterious rapper Kindergarten Killer’s newly-dropped “Red Color” was reposted by Beijing newspaper People’s Daily. In the track, he raps about some historical facts related to Hong Kong, including the destruction of opium at Humen, the Treaty of Nanking, and the 1997 handover of Hong Kong. The notorious diss king also shares his personal opinions on international affairs and values, rapping that “the so-called truth is only fighting for their own interest”, “freedom is a relative concept, but what do you really live for?”, and, “in a different system, the useless will still accomplish nothing.”
Some influential hip hop figures on Weibo, such as “GhettoManKR,” criticized Kindergarten Killer’s new track as “the scum of Chinese hip hop,” claiming that “whoever reposts the song is just a hip hop marketing account.”
When it comes to policemen rappers, it might be even harder to judge creative motives. Tan Peng, Zuo Jing Guan Tian, Rich John, Super Van and producer Super DeepxXx — five policemen in everyday life — dropped a track entitled “Supporting HK Police.” The officers rapped about standing with their “Hong Kong police brothers” who were challenged and injured in the recent Hong Kong International Airport protests.
Over the last week, MC Zhuo, GAJI, Mr. Mafan, Fatkan, Rainny and more also dropped tracks on the issue of Hong Kong. PG One, battle MC Boom/Bao Yin, and Chino Yang from San Francisco have also publicly released a cappella and freestyle disses expressing their attitudes towards recent events in the SAR, generally voicing support for China and decrying violence against Hong Kong’s police force.
It’s ironic that a music genre that used to be banned from Chinese television has generated so many tracks supporting the very system that had banned it. Maybe PG One’s reply to a comment on Instagram can explain: “I had a fight with my mom, and that was in my family. But if you curse my mom, then excuse me [it’s another thing].”
88Rising held its second annual Head in the Clouds music festival in LA on August 17, featuring Higher Brothers — who made their own strongly pro-PRC statements on social media last week — along with label mates Rich Brian, Joji and Niki, as well as Kong Kong K-pop star Jackson Wang.
2 REAL/Xu Zhenzhen announced that he’d be cancelling his first concert in Taipei on August 17, after he and his team had already arrived in Taiwan, due to his refusal to delete Weibo and Instagram posts supporting Hong Kong police. Taipei concert venue The Wall claimed that the cancellation was in consideration of potential safety issues, given that some local hip hop heads were planning to “teach 2 REAL a lesson.”
Meanwhile, popular Chengdu rapper Ty — who just dropped his first album, Gou Jian Da Bei, after signing to Warner Music Taiwan — also canceled a Taiwan concert that was supposed to take place on August 23. His cancellation was likewise possibly due to a similar pro-Hong-Kong-police post on his Weibo account.
Our question is: will a difference in political tendencies or opinions continue to influence music and cultural communication? Or is it still possible for us to expect that one day everyone will be able to put aside ideological differences and respect one another as independent individuals, inside and outside mainland China?
We might have been watching a historic change take shape in recent years, but it is too early for anyone to say what “The End of History” is. All we can do might be to try to learn more about each other’s truths and different opinions, while remaining humble. After all, no one likes to be patronized. In any case — we’ll keep a close eye on this situation as it develops in the next Chinese Rap Wrap.
Cover image: “Supporting HK Police” by Tan Peng, Zuo Jing, Guan Tian, Rich John, Super Van, and Super DeepxXx
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