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

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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/Crews to Watch

Jinx Zhou (Zhou Junyi), a 22-old-year Hunan girl who studied at the University of Washington majoring in coding, has been active since she moved back to China a few months ago and started doing music as an independent musician. She previously starred in the third season of I, Supermodel, a reality show produced by iQIYI which aired in 2016.

Jinx is a rapper and one of the contestants in the upcoming third season of Rap of China. Her debut performance at Beijing underground music venue DDC in April attracted Sbazzo, MC Max, AP Manchuker and many more OGs — a promising first showing. Recent tracks like GAO KAO” and her latest EDM offering “Dim Sum” from her project 72 TAP show what she can do beyond rapping: each track was written and mixed within 72 hours.

No matter how far she goes on Rap of China, Jinx is definitely an up-and-coming star in the hip hop scene, and is growing a huge fan base.

Related:

22-Year-Old Rapper Jinx Zhou Releases Anti-School Anthem “Gao Kao”

New Chinese Rap Releases of Note

Last year’s Rap of China champion, Uyghur rapper Air (Aire), dropped a 12-minute track on his birthday on June 1 called “Fa, Lao Niu 13” (“Pharaoh is Badass”):

“The title doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just to make you curious,” the rapper says at the end of the track. It seems like a tribute to the hardcore rapper MC Pharaoh, while also a diss track against the fakers that Air despises in the industry. In the track, he changes his pace, flow, and even style a couple of times, and shouts out his bros Blow Fever, Al Rocco, and MC Max, as well as Changsha rappers Kungfu Pen, Damnshine, and Ranzer.

Meanwhile, Masiwei and DZknow from Higher Brothers dropped a collab called “WDFA” with Korean-American singer/rapper Jay Park and Estonia-born, Seattle-based rapper Avatar Darko. The Chinese rap stars also appeared in Snoop Dogg’s Instagram post a couple of days ago, and DZknow posted a clip of him and Snoop eating Chinese snacks in an interview setting.

Chinese Rap in the Mainstream

Zhang Yanqi, the Chongqing rapper who was crowned the freestyle battle champion at Underground 8 Mile in 2017, made it to the finale of the widely viewed K-pop talent show Chuang Zao Ying 2019. By surviving until the last round of the Tencent-produced show, Zhang has earned a spot on the 11-member idol group R1SE — virtually propelling him overnight to a new level of stardom. Now Zhang’s every Weibo post gets tens of thousands of reposts and likes, just like other K-pop idols. What the former battle king is planning to do with his rap skills and his idol traffic still remains unclear.

On the same day, another (comparatively more underground) “rap performance contest,” Listen Up, held its national finals in Shenzhen. 20 finalists from five regional competitions were cut down to 10, then 4. In the end, Yunnan rapper Kisos from Kunming hip hop label Ping Xi Music (平西音乐) took home the 2019 title.

Related:

With OG Judges and a Focus on the Music, “Listen Up” Showcases the Real Rap of China

Chinese Rap Overseas

There have been rumors of a PG One 2019 tour for a while. And now, the Rap of China S01 co-champion’s “Hello World” tour has finally been unveiled, 18 months after his last public appearance on a New Year’s Eve gala program. According to the tour’s promotional video, it kicks off in the middle of September in Toronto, then sees PG One — now touring under his real name, Wang Hao — trot off to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Hong Kong, and possibly more cities. Ticket prices range from 78-528CAD (about 60-400USD).

As reported in my previous column, PG One’s former rap crew HHH has changed its name to GDLF Music, and Wang Hao has abandoned his stage name and is seemingly poised to make another comeback… overseas, at least in the short run.

Beefs and Other Bits

Besides his collab with Toronto Raptor Jeremy Lin, MC JIN has also attracted attention recently thanks to a photo of him with China Mac, a Chinese-American rapper from New York. The photo was posted on Instagram by China Mac with the caption, “Rewriting History.”

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Rewriting History.

A post shared by El CHOPii (@chinamac) on

China Mac was in jail from 2003 to 2013 following a confrontation with Jin in NYC’s Chinatown. There are several theories about what exactly went down between the two rappers 16 years ago — what’s certain, based on police reports, is that it was less about rap and more about gunfire. It supposedly turned out to be a misunderstanding, and after a decade, what was probably the biggest beef among overseas Chinese rappers has seemingly ended in peace.

Also in MC Jin news, he’ll soon become the latest figure to take on the mantle of playing Sun Wukong, courtesy of a new iQIYI show:

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In Chinese culture, the legend of Sun Wu Kong is that he was born from a rock and banished from the heavens to find his way on earth for his misdeeds. “美猴王之真假孙悟空” which loosely translates to “Monkey King, The Real Sun Wu Kong” is a film releasing on June 21st on a platform in China called IQIYI (think Netflix). This project will forever be dear to me on a personal level for a few reasons. Although there's been a plethora of films/series based on Sun Wu Kong in the past and probably countless more to come in the future, to be able to say I had the opportunity to portray one of the most legendary and iconic characters in Chinese culture is something I value highly. This is my first time taking on a role in full Mandarin dialogue, which is nothing short of mind-blowing to me, considering I only picked up the language in the last two years (and I still can't read or write it #AlexaPlayLearnChinese). As well, this is also essentially my first time taking on a main role in any project I've ever been a part of. Amidst all the things I learned and discovered through this experience, it is that no one component makes a great film. It's a tedious joint effort comprised of countless individuals. I am sincerely grateful to all the men and women, who took part in this project and trusted me with the responsibility to bring an integral part of this story to life. At it's core, this film is about identity and finding one's own path through the themes of love and loss. I may not be the Monkey King in real life, but make no mistake, the journey of self discovery is one that I continue to embark on daily. 🙏😌 Stay tuned. Trailer coming sooner than later.

A post shared by Jin Au-Yeung 🎤 🎥MC Jin 歐陽靖 (@iammcjin) on

More positive news: GDLF Music, the Xi’an-based hip hop crew/label formerly known as HHH, launched a new program in the middle of their current world tour aiming to help would-be rappers hone their wordplay and rapping skills. The program is called Best Rapper Game, and will take place in Kunming, Chengdu, Changsha, Hangzhou, and ten other cities. There will be a “live battle performance” portion of the program, which seems to be a DIY, by-rappers-for-rappers alternative to the mainstream talent shows produced by tech giants like iQIYI and Tencent.

Last but not least: Liu Zhou, the musical director of the first two seasons of Rap of China and founder of hip hop label Door&Key, was arrested for running a large-scale scam operation, reportedly cheating one investor out of 15 million RMB (about 2.1 million USD). Ouch!

More Chinese Rap Wraps:

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

The Chinese Rap Wrap: Edison Chen Returns as Three Hu Sparks Rap Battle Brawl

The Chinese Rap Wrap: Hardcore MCs Drop “Game of Thrones” Tribute as “Rap of China” Reveals 2019 Judges

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

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