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Communist Party Rappers Urge Hong Kong to “Keep Head Up” in New Music Video

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CD Rev — the cringey, Communist Party-backed rappers who we all love to hate — are back with a new, low-budget and low-effort lyric video. But this time, their creative rationale is set to baffle even the most culture-oriented political theorists: the new song is called “Kungfu China”, and it’s a lyrical dialogue with Hong Kong.

The people of Hong Kong, who are currently in the news for an ongoing series of protests against a now-suspended extradition bill, are not in the friendliest of moods with regards to mainland China. Tensions are high this week, especially, after a mob of men in masks attacked commuters in one of the city’s subway stations.

It’s in this context that CD Rev drops their new single, “Kungfu China”. And while Chinese rap songs about kung fu are nothing new, this might be the first Chinese rap song about kung fu to also function as an envoy of political thought, delivered from rappers, through State censors, to an intended receiving audience of Hong Kongers plagued by civil unrest — or perhaps more likely, a mainland audience that is slowly seeing more (carefully curated) images of protest and counter-protest in HK filter through to their social media channels.

“We’ve loved watching Hong Kong kungfu movies since our childhood,” the group writes on their official Weibo account. “People like Bruce Lee, Huo Yuanjia and Chen Zhen used their kungfu to defend the dignity of the motherland. Now, some mobs use sticks and fists to hurt their own people. We want to use this song ‘KUNGFU CHINA’ to show these mobs the real kungfu spirit!”

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The song itself is far more trap-oriented than the group’s classic boom bap antics. And to be completely fair, one rapper Pissy (who you may remember from his anti-Sweden diss track) does hit some pretty hard flows in his Mandarin verses. That being said, the track suffers from the classic CD REV elements of shitty hooks and wack English bars.

“I don’t know the reason why you poor little cowards ain’t got no nuts,” laments CD REV member Roy, starting off his verse with a bang.

He then makes one very solid reference to Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones pt. II”, and expresses his desire to hug his friends, before busting open his thesaurus in order to call out those who are “calumniating” (making false/defamatory statements), telling them to “just keep faking.”

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Pissy’s Mandarin bars are done in his native language, and are thus far less cringey in terms of flow. Still, some of them land far outside the purview of what we might call hip hop lyrical content:

“Practicing kung fu is to protect your country, not to be a traitor, not to retreat because of difficulties.”

I guess we can say that the intention here is relatively noble. The message is one of collaboration, sympathy, and mutual humanity in the face of greater challenges. Nonetheless, CD REV is a consistent powerhouse of cringe, and we can’t say that this song is going to affect that track record.

Adan Kohnhorst
Adan Kohnhorst is a Shanghai-based writer, producer, and multimedia artist, and the Associate Editor at RADII. His work has been featured in publications such as Maxim and the Chinese-language StreetVoice, and he’s an active member of the hip-hop and DIY music scenes in Shanghai, NYC, and Dallas. He learned Mandarin in high school so he could train at the Shaolin Temple, but now just uses it to interview rappers.