Higher Brothers’ Masiwei dropped his second solo album on Valentine’s Day. Entitled Dark Horse, the record is a follow up to last year’s Prince Charming. And this is probably the most charming thing to come out of the whole promotional push around his latest LP: a 20ish minute mini-doc on the man himself and his roots in Pixian, an outer-lying suburb of Chengdu.
Whether you stan Masiwei or have never heard of him, East Avenue offers an interesting glimpse into just how much one person’s life can be changed by music. Produced by his label, 88rising, the film features the rapper’s school friends talking about his rise to fame, Masiwei discussing his short stints working dead-end jobs at the likes of 7-Eleven and choosing art over the army, plus a segment on the making of “Laoshan Dao Shi,” his break-out track and still one of his best songs. There’s even a quick shout out to the chili bean sauce that most people in China know Pixian for.
Of course all the friends say nice things about him and there’s a lot about how he’s an inspiration to them, but there are some genuinely touching moments too and it’s a real reminder of Masiwei’s roots and his background. And if that doesn’t do it for you, it’s also just a look at a less glamorous, but pretty typical part of “lower tier” China and the hopes and dreams of some of its residents.
For a pretty different taste of Masiwei’s new record, here’s some footage of him doing a couple of tracks from Dark Horse as part of a recent McDonald’s-backed Chinese New Year spot:
Check out our feature on Masiwei’s group to learn how Higher Brothers became China’s most famous hip hop export, and go here for some Chinese hip hop docs that cut a little deeper:
4 Documentaries on Chinese Hip Hop to Check Out Right Now
Cover photo: 88rising
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