On March 16, Masiwei, a member of one of China’s most influential rap groups, Higher Brothers, dropped his new single “SNTS” (an acronym for ‘Streets Need This Shit’).
The song is a prelude to the Sichuanese rapper’s highly anticipated third solo album, Humble Swag, scheduled for release on March 23.
The “SNTS” music video opens in a crowded subway train. Sporting a plain brown suit and a rather unfashionable bowl cut, Masiwei impersonates a salaryman on his way to the office. The character powerfully conveys the monotony of the 9-to-5 — or more accurately, 996 — lifestyle.
A few cuts later, Masiwei pulls out a job offer from his briefcase and starts writing lyrics on the back of the sheet. This scene is perhaps a reference to the rapper’s penniless days during his youth.
Masiwei impersonates a salaryman in the music video for his new single “SNTS”
In the 2021 short-doc East Avenue, produced by American label 88rising, the rapper expresses his aversion to working culture:
“When I was in university, I had all sorts of part-time jobs. I taught drawing, sold toothbrushes in the supermarket, worked at 7-Eleven. All these odd jobs are the main reason I don’t ever want a job again.”
As Masiwei explains in the documentary, he used to spend hours riding a bus from his hometown of Pixian county to Chengdu. He would sit in the back during the ride, listening to hip hop music on his MP3 player and writing raps.
Promotional poster for Masiwei’s new single “SNTS”
Going back to the “SNTS” music video: When salaryman Masiwei falls asleep on the train, we are catapulted into an action-ridden, neon-lit dream. In the following sequences, the rapper is primarily occupied with playing mahjong with his crew and getting a neck massage while wearing heavy diamond chains.
While the video playfully contrasts work and fun or reality and fantasy, the lyrics highlight Masiwei’s status as a rapper and his success story.
“I got homies in every city, I come from a small place but I feel powerful like an Emperor.“My moves are strong, I push through like a herd of wild black horses in the grasslands.”
“I got homies in every city, I come from a small place but I feel powerful like an Emperor.
“My moves are strong, I push through like a herd of wild black horses in the grasslands.”
Fans will recognize that the second line above clearly references Masiwei’s sophomore album Dark Horse. This suggests that Humble Swag could be considered the closing chapter in a trilogy of albums centered on the rapper’s journey from rags to riches.
“SNTS” had scored more than 1 million views on Weibo at the time of writing. The energetic track has received a warm welcome from Chinese and international fans, who also expressed impatience about the long wait for the entire album’s release.
Meanwhile, many are patiently awaiting a reunion between Masiwei and the other members of Higher Brothers. It has been well over a year since the four have made music together. Their last single, “Empire,” was released in November 2020.
All images via Weibo
We highlight our top stories each week in an email newsletter that goes out every Monday - hot, fresh, and straight to your inbox.
Don't worry, we don't spam
Thousands of earthlings have signed up for our newsletter, and you should do the same