Daily Drip

Lay Zhang Drops Ancient Chinese Banger “Jade” and It’s a Pun


Lay Zhang has dropped the title track off his upcoming album “Jade”, and it’s got a little something for everyone.

The track carries forward in the trap-era, Chinese-nostalgia-revivalist style pioneered in recent years by folks like Kris Wu. That makes sense, seeing that Kris and Lay used to perform together as part of K-pop group EXO, and along with other ex-members like Luhan, have become torch-holders in bringing back the polished professionalism of Korea’s sound and re-contextualizing it for Chinese fans.

The track opens up on the unmistakable sound of Chinese opera percussion — Vava how we feeling right now? — before dropping into Lay’s verse. It doesn’t hurt that the beat is an absolute banger, produced by Murda Beatz.

We gotta say, Lay has done a great job of balancing his linguistic approach, switching effortlessly in and out of English and Mandarin, sometimes mid-bar. The standout instance of this is his playing with the homophonic relationship between the English you and the Mandarin  , meaning jade:

玉 玉 玉 玉 玉 玉
没人比你珍贵 you (no one is more precious than you)
只有我懂的美 you (only beauty that I know)
But ain’t nobody shine like
玉 玉 玉 玉 玉 玉
Ain’t nobody shine like you
I know you like diamonds too
But ain’t nobody shine like 玉

Of course, the comments section is filled with fandom, much of it from the EXO-L fan community:

“How many EXO-L here to support Lay?” reads the top-rated comment on the song’s official YouTube audio.

“I also love how carefully crafted Lay’s songs are,” writes another. “He never disappoints.”

Keep on shining, Lay Zhang — ain’t nobody shine like 玉.

Adan Kohnhorst
Adan Kohnhorst is a US-based writer, producer, multimedia artist, and former 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 to train at the Shaolin Temple but now uses it to interview rappers. He blogs about China and Asia on Instagram: @this.is.adan
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