New Music, formerly Yin (音, “music”), is a monthly RADII column that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between.
Here’s a run-down of the songs that have soundtracked the month of June for us here at RADII, from laidback hip hop beats and a pop idol group’s emotional farewell, to one of the best tracks of 2020 to date.
Signed to Eating Music after his stint with the label at their second annual producer-protege training camp, this young beamaker has set about establishing a sterling reputation, with stand-out tracks included on a compilation that emerged from said camp and also a collaboration with Shanghai-based jazz singer Voision Xi.
Now with the release of his self-titled debut album, he gets to stretch his wings a little bit. Incorporating a bunch of styles and sounds, the record is a sumptuous downbeat, often jazzy affair.
Incorporating the sounds of a big band, “Sorry” is an excellent example of the continuing evolution of young Sichuan rapper Wang Yitai.
On this romantic pop rap track, we hear Wang Yitai’s softer side, while also getting a feel for the young rapper’s ability to work with a diverse range of musical topics. The last time we heard from him was on the latest Chengdu Rap House cypher, a track that certainly had more menace and bite than this latest release. With that said, we’re excited to hear what’s next.
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The story behind the success of this track is many-pronged. First of all, it’s Jay Chou, the Taiwanese “King of Mandopop” and a man known for birthing extremely viral tracks that dominate the airwaves in China for months after their release.
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Additionally, the star released the song with excellent timing. With summer heating up and plans for holidays around the world all but extinguished for the foreseeable future, the track played upon the growing wanderlust of music fans, and the absolute necessity of afternoon cocktails in the sun.
You win again, Jay Chou (although promoting your Netflix series in the title of the YouTube music video was a bit corny.)
Hiperson – ”Spring Breeze“
Chengdu group Hiperson return with an intense, multi-layered eight minute track, “Spring Breeze,” that has us eagerly awaiting the release of their new album, out later this summer via Maybe Mars.
The vocals — from Chen Sijiang — are a mix of spoken word poetry and emotional, tortured screams, with crashing drums and guitar providing a beautiful atmospheric backdrop. The inclusion of some gorgeous ethereal flutes from Ji Yinan adds even more depth to an epic song.
INDIGOCHXXXREN, or Indigo Children (or 深蓝儿童) are difficult to describe. While their overall image implies a fondness for emo rap, there’s plenty to chew on musically on CANIS 3.
The new album features collaborations with the likes of fellow hip hop trio Straight Fire Gang, as well as an excellent link up with metal singer AKATOXH on “Become Human.” Meanwhile, the group’s stylistic flexibility is further demonstrated through tracks such as “Blindness,” a brilliant dive into early boom bap.
This record is incredibly diverse and forces multiple listens.
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Released on Ran Music sublabel Ran Groove and on Xiamen-based vinyl label Regret Sound, Knopha’s latest release is another conceptual 3-track piece following from his excellent predecessor, Nothing Nil.
The Fujian producer’s ability to mix ambient sounds with retro house vibes has made him one of the most intriguing producers in China today, with Gym sounding like something you might find on the soundtrack to your favorite anime show.
Indefatigable Sichuan rapper Vava dropped an excellent new EP this month, linking up with local Chinese producer Chace for a group of five songs, unlike anything we’ve heard from her before. Vow oozes attitude and sexiness, in particular on “The Weekend,” which is a delightfully simple party anthem.
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She’s already planning to put out a new album this year as well, while rumors around her joining the next season of The Rap of China continue to swirl. At any rate, you’ll be hearing much more from the rapper in 2020.
After he teamed up with Osheyack on a mix for Crack Magazine earlier this year, we had a taste of what producer Nahash is all about. He opens Flowers of the Revolution with another collaboration with the Memory Hierarchy producer, immediately showing off some dense, dark jungle rhythms.
The SVBKVLT-signed artist also enlists the likes of labelmates Gabber Modus Operandi, Welsh improvisational artist Elvin Brandhi, vocalist for Nyege Nyege Tapes group Duma Kanja and Melbourne producer DJ Plead for a trio of eclectic remixes.
And now for something completely different. We were treated to one final mini-album from Rocket Girls 101, the 11-member girl group formed on Chinese variety show Produce 101. The bizarrely named “5452830” (the numbers are intended to sound like “miss you all the time” in Mandarin) is an emotional farewell for the group, but just the latest act in the story of Rocket Girls 101, as the members now seek to carve out solo careers of their own.
The music video accompanying the track shows footage of the girls recording, dancing and hugging out the end of an era. The thinking behind making an uber successful 11 person group means that we certainly won’t be starved for new music from the group’s members going forward, and of course, there are plenty of new TV show-created idol groups ready to take their place.
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Guangzhou indie rock group Hoo! finally drop their debut album on Merrie Records. After teasing single “布鲁布鲁” on the label at the end of 2019, their self-titled effort arrives this month.
The group, which formed in the southern city in 2018, has a raw, frenetic energy that’s becoming increasingly rare these days. The lead single on the album, “Beer Bubbles,” sums up that energy perfectly, with singer Luo Jun leading the way through a deeply enjoyable, youthful track. That release drops on June 29, but you can listen to the lead single on Bandcamp now.
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