In October, Rap of China’s co-champion GAI performed his new single Rainbow on CCTV’s Mid-Autumn Gala. Since then, his drive to gain exposure on more mainstream platforms hasn’t slowed down. The state-backed mega-newspaper People’s Daily posted an interview with him to their website on January 4th, in which he talked about love for his parents, his family and the life outlook that he learned from hip hop music: “When people doubt you, just hang in there and prove yourself.”
Hunan TV also announced that GAI will be on the next season of Singer, one of the biggest TV singing contests for pro singers, along with Jessie J and the Chinese “godfather of rock” Wang Feng.
The irony is that on the same day, the Communist Youth League posted a screenshot of lyrics by (the other) co-champion, PG One, from his 2015 track Christmas Night, back when he was a completely underground rapper:
“Pure white powder lined up on the table…a shameless bitch starts to move her hand…she tells me she was born in 1998, and wants me to sleep with her, to get her drunk and to get with her…cash for you as gifts, put on your red and white leggings…”
Obviously the Youth League was not happy:
“[Warning: this song might teach young people to use drugs!]
Recently, some netizens reported that the song Christmas Night teaches teenagers to use drugs and insult women. Public celebrities should set a public standard, and guide youth in the right direction. If it’s true that ’pure white powder was lined up on the table’, then someone was violating the law.”
40 minutes later, PG One apologized on his Weibo:
“I was deeply influenced by African-American music when I first got into hip hop culture, and I didn’t understand the core values properly. I sincerely apologize. Now that I’ve grown up, I do feel that I should take more responsibility for society, moral values and the public good, and that I should be a better model for my fans. I’ll improve the core ideas behind my new songs. The song has been pulled from all online platforms, and will be rewritten and censored before it’s back online. Thank you all for supervising. Hip hop should always be peace and love.”
As always, his fans have his back, but PG One isn’t out of the fire yet. There’s a rumor spreading about him and a famous actress, and to make matters worse, videos have surfaced of his earlier underground rap battles, in which he evoked the name of a dead singer as a punchline, and (unsurprisingly) used a lot of swear words.
Also unsurprisingly, CD REV, the semi-dorky Chengdu-based rap crew who have always held an outspoken stance against drug use, agree with the Youth League:
“We said this a year ago, now let’s just see what happens next.”
Their original post at the bottom of the picture, dated 2017-2-11:
“Those rappers who lure teenagers to use drugs in order to become popular, and those rappers who attract teenagers with Middle School Syndrome through violence and eroticism, you all should feel lucky that you’re not very popular yet, or you wouldn’t be around today. But you don’t have tomorrow either — people must take responsibility for what they’ve said, and of course singers have to take responsibility for their own songs. We won’t delete this post, and we’ll see what happen later.”
As rap breaks into China from America, and into the mainstream from the underground, it will take some time for those who don’t yet “get it” to adjust. With Rap of China at a close, the long stretch in China’s battle for the hip hop music market has just begun.