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Photo of the day: Vava Evokes Peking Opera in New Music Video

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This week’s photo theme is Red Raps: stills from recent hip-hop videos with “red” (read: patriotic) themes.

Rounding off this week’s photo theme of patriotic/pro-China rap images, we’re highlighting the costuming and visual design from Vava’s track My New Clothes, or as translated here, My New Swag.

We spotlighted the original video when we picked out the most fire debuts from the Rap of China freshman class, but apparently Vava’s been growing faster than her production team can manage, because this whole new video cut has come out since then, with 4.2 million views at time of writing.

The track’s title — “My New Clothes” — suggests a glow-up of some degree, and Vava tackles that theme in a distinctly Chinese way. We get a total Peking opera aesthetic. Masked figures come in and out, and Vava rocks a mix of regal garb and street chic. It reflects in the song itself, which heavily features an opera sample.

4 Fire Solo Debuts From the Rap of China Freshman Class

Maybe intentional, but it seems like pretty much everyone from Rap of China is picking up the deep China aesthetic at least once. It makes sense, with the stated intent of the show being to transform hip hop from a Chinese subculture to a mainstream genre, and to define what it means to be Chinese in hip hop. Viewers might remember crowd favorite Al Rocco being booted first round for failing to represent China.

In the end, we’re for the heavy China image. Gai in Chongqing and Vava in full on empress attire are dope. We’re pretty sure that we’ll be seeing more homegrown styles and old school cultural twists cropping up in future rap videos. Also more Beats pills.

Adan Kohnhorst
Adan Kohnhorst is a Shanghai-based writer, producer, and multimedia artist, and the 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 so he could train at the Shaolin Temple, but now just uses it to interview rappers.