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

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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

Indigo Children, a trio formed in 2017 and based in Anhui’s provincial capital Hefei (a city not generally known for its hip hop), consists of locals Lil Andy, Young Chigga and YLevoled. Inspired by New Age philosophy, Indigo Children (“children who are believed to possess special, unusual and sometimes supernatural traits or abilities,” according to Wikipedia) express their understandings and describe the world in their eyes through abstract (usually dark) lyrics and the strange vibe of their tracks.

In fact, it’s hard to classify IC’s music into a specific genre: it features elements of trap, emo, punk, metal, alternative, and many more. In “Shi” from their soon-to-drop new EP Otaku Deatha collaboration with Xenos from Atlanta and Foreign Hype from Los Angeles — a mix of death metal and emo trap backgrounds a monster hunting scene.

Dizkar is an R&B/funk musician, hip hop beatmaker, producer and singer from Kunming. Since releasing his first EP, Deetape, in 2014, he has collaborated with French label My Bags, Chengdu rapper Kafe.Hu, WOOTACC, Orientlic, and labelmates Lu1 and Xia Zhiyu.

Dizkar collected 11 tracks from more than 100 of his previous productions into a compilation album called Ride On Whisky after he signed with Chengdu-based Mintone Records last year. On October 9, he dropped a collaboration called “Crowded Zone” with Wang Yitai/3Ho. And his collab with LA-based financial-auditor-turned jazz rapper Lu1 will come out later. As a teaser, the two dropped a collab called “Follow” last month:

New Chinese Rap Releases of Note

A more mainstream crew, Horse King, recently formed. These five young rappers all hail from Xinjiang and have been featured on the Rap of China. The crew includes popular RoC 2019 contestants LastKing/Liu Xuanting and FOX, Tsinghua University student Swang, along with two others, Hayrul and YoungPaine. On the crew’s debut release HorseKing Cypher 2019, we can definitely feel the vibe from northwestern China, where “kids have special love for horses,” as they rap. The first half of their debut album Horse King has dropped on Chinese music streaming site NetEase ahead of a soon-to-launch tour.

Lexie Liu, the only female contestant to make it into the last round of Rap of China last year, now has her own production studio. And her music videos’ quality is obviously improving, as we can see on her latest single, “Hao Ma, Hao La, Hao Ba,” which dropped on September 30 along with the gorgeous, visual-effect-heavy video.

Chinese Rap in the Mainstream

8 Mile Rap Music Game 2019-2020 seems to have become more than an online competition for beatmakers and rappers. On October 9, a press conference and Chinese hip hop industry forum organized by 8 Mile Underground was held in Xi’an, featuring a signing ceremony cementing a partnership between 8 Mile, livestreaming platform HUYA, and liquor brand Jiang Xiao Bai. Forum topics included “Chinese Hip Hop History,” “Professionalization of Independent Labels,” “Development of Hip Hop KOL’s,” “Young Blood Cultivation,” “Chinese Hip Hop 2020,” and more. Over 50 record labels, variety show production teams, rap crews, music KOLs, and podcast hosts were invited to the forum.

Beats that were uploaded to the platform as part of the competition will be available for sale soon on 8 Mile’s self-developed app. 8 Mile’s successful transformation from a long-running underground hip hop battle into a full-blown online platform might mean that there’s now a new channel for beatmakers and rappers to find each other.

Beefs and Scandals

Less exciting news — or a scandal, you might say — comes from the YOLO music festival, which kicked off in Changsha on October 4. Before popular Nanjing rapper and Shooc label founder Jony J gave a performance on the second day of the festival, one of his collaborating technicians from Space Circle Music, Luo Bu, was allegedly slapped and verbally abused by the boss of the music festival’s sponsor, liquor brand Jiang Xiao Bai. Luo waited for hours for the abuser to apologize publicly, but in the end he described what happened in a Weibo post, expressing his disappointment and anger while asking for justice and a proper apology.

Jony J posted an announcement in support of Luo Bu, emphasizing the importance of professional technical equipment for musicians at live performances. He also canceled future performances at YOLO festival later this year.

The abuser, Xiao Bai Ge, apologized on Weibo to Luo Bu, SCM, and Jony J’s team soon after the latter’s announcement.

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