Anticipation for the next season of iQIYI’s hit variety show The Rap of China is heating up, with the release of a star-studded cypher, entitled “RAPSTAR.”
The cypher features the four celebrity judges set to appear on the show, “Young OG” Kris Wu, controversial past winner GAI, pop singer Jane Zhang and old-school Mandopop performer Will Pan, as well as guest mentor and K-pop star Jay Park, with the latter making a surprise turn, rapping in Mandarin Chinese (see the video below).
Jane Zhang joins the show for the first time, replacing Chinese pop star G.E.M. as the sole female judge, while GAI takes the reigns from Taiwanese duo MC Hotdog and Zhang Zhenyue.
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With the release of Hunan TV’s rap variety contest Rap Star earlier this year, as well as the announcement of the line-up of judges for streaming platform Bilibili’s new hip hop show, Rap for Youth, it seems that the folks over at iQIYI were eager to clap back at their new competition in the rap variety show world.
It’s worth noting that promotional materials for the show, released in late July, featured the phrase “Who’s the real rap star?”
That wording is again repeated in the song title chosen for The Rap of China 2020’s cypher, and could be a not-too-subtle dig at Hunan TV’s show.
The song itself is underwhelming. The stand-out performance comes from Chongqing rapper GAI, who was crowned co-champion with PG One in the show’s landmark first season. The pair were then caught up in China’s apparent “hip hop ban”; PG One is still yet to recover from that controversy (he’s been limited to releasing under a pseudonym on WeChat), but this represents something of a rehabilitation for GAI.
Jane Zhang’s verse has also been commented on quite a bit on Chinese social media, with the singer-songwriter referencing the recent hit drama, Sisters Who Make Waves, in her opening lines.
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The cypher closes with words overlaid against a stormy background, reading, “We create the past and decide the future. Rise up in the universe and cast your shadow over this era.”
The launch date for the show has yet to be announced, with iQIYI accompanying the music video launch with, “The Rap of China 2020 is coming soon!” Recording has been underway for the past week however, so it doesn’t seem like we’ll have to wait too much longer now.
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