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“The Rap of China” Rumored to be Returning Without Kris Wu in 2019

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It’s our solemn duty to inform you that there are some very un-skr rumors floating around on the Chinese internet right now. Rumors that say Kris Wu will not be a part of this year’s commercial hip hop carnival The Rap of China.

This time last year, we were wondering whether there’d be a show at all after some seriously controversial fall out from season one, but streaming platform iQIYI have already put the wheels in motion for 2019, issuing a call out for wannabe rap stars to audition. The show’s return is no doubt thanks to a “successful” season two, which saw the program cover up tattoos and wipe out any whiffs of gangsta excess in favor of a hefty dose of Chinese nationalism and repeated affirmations to being “made in China”.

rap of china 2019 kris wu

The 2019 sign-up form, in case you want to compete

There have been rumors since the last season rapped up that old-school Taiwanese hip hop icon MC Hotdog might be jettisoned for Rap of China 2019, but now the talk is all about how the show’s leading man/hater lightning rod Kris Wu won’t be taking part. The former K-pop boyband member-turned-hip hop bandwagon jumper/saviour of Chinese rap (delete as you see appropriate) is supposedly signed on for a new idol worshipping vehicle with iQIYI rival Tencent:

Kris Wu Tencent show

An apparent announcement for Kris Wu in “Hipsters Change the World”

Wu’s reported presence on that show, entitled 潮人改变世界, which we’re shamelessly going to translate as Hipsters Change the World (we can’t imagine that’ll be the official English name), has led many to speculate that he won’t be on Rap of China this summer. A number of hip hop-focused WeChat accounts have since picked up on these rumors, but for the moment they remain just that — there’s been no official word from iQIYI on who will be judging Rap of China 2019, nor do we expect any for a couple of months yet at least.

RADII has a complicated relationship with Kris Wu. We’ve bashed him for his apparent inability to hold a note and terrible freestyles, and had plenty of fun mocking his limitless sell out tendencies. But we’ve also been pleasantly surprised by some of his music and admit to feeling a little sympathy for him when the Arianna Grande army went nuts over him topping the US iTunes charts. And when he leapt off his judges’ couch to blast the haters in last year’s Rap of China finale, we have to admit it made us smile — although that may just have been at the ridiculousness of the spectacle (impressive given the high bar for ridiculous spectacles that show regularly sets).

Related:

Xinjiang-born Uyghur Rapper Wins “The Rap of China 2018” as Kris Wu Calls Out Haters

But as Kris would no doubt require of us, let’s be real: Rap of China won’t be the same if it comes without Kris Wu, even if the iQIYI algorithms are able to point the producers to another crowd-pleasing judge. Kris may have been regularly bashed for portraying himself as a “young OG”, but anyone looking to the show for a serious examination of quality hip hop in China was always going to be disappointed. It’s a heavily commercialised soap opera that happens to revolve around real-life rappers and pop stars. And as such, Kris Wu is kind of the perfect frontman for it.

As ever, we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments as the show’s return nears.

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.

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