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.
March has proven to be a great month for new music. The release of a compilation by South Korean club Cakeshop’s new label Carousel Records resulted in two bangers from a pair of our favorite musicians, Puzzy Stack and Yehaiyahan.
We were also treated to three new collaborations from Mandopop icon Jackson Wang, while Shanghai label Eating Music also dropped their latest compilation, and controversial rapper Fat Shady delivered another new mixtape.
Shanghai alternative hip hop, experimental and electronic label Eating Music return with another of their annual compilations, this time focusing on the concept of living together and the communal ideas that that inspires.
The release is accompanied by a word from founder Cookie Zhang, which sums up what the record is about: “Music, living, and eating are the most important matters at this home, also the long-term gist of the Eating Music Family. We output music and ideas in a most comfortable and kinda self-centered way, while adopting all kinds of personalities.”
Two of China’s biggest pop stars combine here for the huge release. Mandopop star Jackson Wang should be familiar to anyone who reads RADII’s coverage. The GOT7 member teams with Sichuan-born rapper Vava, for “So Bad.”
Throughout the beginning of this year, Wang has shown his pan-Asian clout by also teaming up with Kpop icon Rain for their track “Magnetic,” while he also linked up with Indonesian pop star Afgan for another track this month, called “M.I.A.”
Jackson Wang and RAIN Drop “MAGNETIC” Music Video
Beijing-based Maybe Mars group Backspace return with their sprawling new album Ants Corrupt Elephant, their first album since mid-2018. As one of the best live rock bands that China has to offer, there’s an ongoing question of whether they can replicate their ever-evolving and loping psychedelic style on record.
The standout track on the album is undoubtedly “Elephant Treasure,” which at 6 minutes and 29 seconds is the longest track by over two minutes. It’s gritty and it’s hallucinating, but listeners should also look to other songs such as “Rainbow Bunny” with its mind-bending guitars, or “Wolf & Sickle” which almost sounds like it’s been made in 8-bit, for a taste of the musical diversity and experimentation at play here.
Chengdu’s most controversial rapper Fat Shady has been busy throughout the past few months. On December 31 he dropped Couple Hunnid Mixtape Vol. 1, the first music we’d heard from him in a while.
Two of China’s Most Controversial Rappers Just Released New Music
Now, in March, he’s back with the second volume of that series, a 12-track outing. The record emphasizes the lyrical flow that made Shady one of the first rappers in China to break out into the mainstream. Here’s his track with excellent Guangdong rapper AR from that record:
Beijing producer and DJ and founder of party and record label Out of Fashion Boys, Luxixi teams up with Hong Kong-based label Fufu Records for her new track “Circulation,” which is out on their compilation release, 88 – Double Happiness/Compilation Vol. 1.
The Chinese name for the track “循环往复” loosely translates to “back and forth,” with the track seemingly an effort in shaking off a sense of anxiety or all-consuming feeling.
Experimental noisy maestro Li Jianhong’s guitar explorations are well-documented. Firmly one of the most interesting musicians in China for years, Li continues to dig deeper into sonic experiments that are at once beautiful and harsh.
On Mountain Fog, a record made up of just two tracks, Li teams up with another experimental maestro in Wang Ziheng for the 30-minute title track, which is an epic voyage in itself.
At the beginning of this year, legendary Seoul venue Cakeshop announced that it would be launching its own record label Carousel Records to celebrate their 8th anniversary.
Their first compilation 8 years of Cakeshop is a 16-track affair with contributions from two of our good friends, Beijing producer and leader of party imprint S!LK, Puzzy Stack, as well as legendary Shanghai-based singer and producer Yehaiyahan. To put it succinctly, Puzzy Stack’s track bangs, while Yehaiyahan’s vocals on a song with grime producer Letta are gorgeous.
Listen to the full release here:
Hong Kong producers QQBBG and Kelvin T combine with Shanghai-based producer, vocalist and experimental musician extraordinaire Jiafeng for their new track “Whiskey Chocolate.”
QQBBG’s caustic, cutesy vibe is at the forefront of both the track and the video, with visions of her dressed in a kawaii nurses outfit and drinking a bottle of wine combining fabulously with idiosyncratic screamo vocals from a sunglasses-wearing Jiafeng.
Frontman for celebrated Wuhan punk act SMZB Wu Wei goes for something a bit different here, incorporating electronic elements and a female vocal track to express his love for Donghu, or East Lake, in Wuhan.
The song is on the one hand an ode to the area and a call for others to push towards conservation of the lake, which was cut off from the Yangtze in the 1950s and has subsequently seen the quality of water deteriorate. It comes with a music video, which, among other things, depicts fish swimming with coke bottles.
For more on the music of Wuhan, check out our dedicated playlist here:
Yin Special: Wuhan Rocks
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