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The Chinese Rap Wrap: Edison Chen Returns as Three Hu Sparks Rap Battle Brawl

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The Chinese Rap Wrap is a bi-weekly RADII column that focuses on the Chinese hip hop scene, featuring the freshest talents, hottest new tracks, and biggest beefs from the world of Chinese rap.

Edison’s Back, Back Again

Edison Chen, the Hong Kong actor and co-founder of fashion brand CLOT, will return to the live stage this summer, hoping to build a reputation as an OG rapper (Chen’s first hip hop LP Please Steal This Album dropped back in 2004 — listen below). Chen has flirted sporadically with the limelight since being at the center of a huge naughty photo scandal a decade ago. This summer will see him rapping again as part of label Modern Sky’s MDSK music festival in June and at LHC in July, along with Korean American rapper Nafla and Chinese trap ambassadors Higher Brothers.

Chinese Rappers to Watch

Gui Bian (pictured up top), one of the 12 finalists in the first season of Rap of China as well as an elementary school Chinese teacher in Chongqing, has always been recognizable for his poetic lyrics, deathcore vocals and Marilyn Manson-like style. He’s spent much of this year appearing at music festivals and collaborating with musicians from an array of different genres, and dropped his latest album Wu Jian last month. Now, he’s put out a music video for a track from that album, “Wonderful World”.

Beijing OG rapper/DJ and thirteen freestyle battle championship winner Nasty Ray also has a notable new music video out. “Survival” was recorded with American rap group N.B.S from Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was also invited as the guest DJ at Pakistani-American rapper Capone-E’s debut performance in China recently, along with another legendary rapper, Sbazzo, a member of Beijing’s first rap crew Yin Ts’ang.

More New Releases of Note

While taking part in iQIYI-produced hit show I Am CZR (Singer and Songwriter), MC Hotdog released the music video of “Do You Remember” from his upcoming new album. The Taiwanese OG, one of the most influential figures in the Mandarin rap world, has been viewed somewhat suspiciously in recent years for his more commercial tendencies and exposure in the mainstream. But in this new heartfelt single, he revisits his past and the path he has travelled, claiming that “I remember.”

Zui Ren seemingly has another alias to add to an already lengthy list. Real name Zhao Chenlong, he’s perhaps best known as a member of the popular rap trio NZBZ who wrote songs for hit movie Detective Chinatown (2015) and Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall (2016). He’s also likely the mysterious online diss king “Kindergarten Killer”. And now, he’s dropped a trap album Xian Luo (Fall/Trap) as an electronic producer under another name 9 Tribez.

The founder of Nanjing-based hip hop label Free-Out, MC Guang, recently dropped his latest album Yi Sheng Xuan Ming which features Boss X, Xi’an crew HHH’s head Danko, and MC Guang’s crew mate Trouble Z.

Meanwhile on Twitter, Chinese-American rapper and one-time Rap of China contestant MC Jin recently dropped a release of sorts: a vocal endorsement of Andrew Yang for President.

Chinese Rap in the Mainstream

Rap duo Round_2 from Free-Out are still competing for the final in Youku-produced variety show Chuang!. Mentored by the Hong Kong judge Jackson Wang, Round_2 performed their song “Kill Da Game” with celebrated Shanghai choir The Rainbow Chamber Singers as a surprising collaboration between hip hop and traditional chamber choir in the latest episode.

In time for “Youth Day” on May 4th in memory of May Fourth Movement in 1919, The Central Committee of the Communist Young League organized an online Youth Day Gala on May 5th and invited NZBZ, Angel Mo, Pharaoh, and of course CD REV, to rap (patriotically) to the young Chinese audience.

Related:

Meet CD REV: China’s “Reddest” Rap Crew

And Finally…

While a number of underground freestyle battles have found themselves banned this year, there are some smaller ones still taking place throughout cities in China. As the most direct way to show off rappers’ wordplay skills, freestyle battles have helped a lot of Chinese rappers to earn the recognition in the underground scene. But this only works if they can respect their opponents and their audience — especially when they are battling far from their hometown.

freestyle battle china

According to rumors online, Chongqing young rapper Three Hu recently sparked a huge fight at a freestyle battle in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province. One of the judges at the battle, Rich John, stated that Three Hu started to provoke the audience and became physically aggressive to his opponent, before pushing and shoving a number of other people near him. A major fight then ensued, which was presumably not the kind of battle organizers had in mind.

Fan Shuhong
    Shuhong (aka Rita) is a language instructor, English/Chinese translator, writer, and proud bunny owner based in Beijing. She's previously worked in Washington D.C. and IUP at Tsinghua University. She loves Chinese language, Japanese arts, post-rock music and good English TV series. Instagram: rita_van

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