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RADII’s Wes Chen Talks Hip Hop History on “Bund to Brooklyn” Podcast

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On February 28, RADII’s resident audio aficionado Wes Chen appeared on the latest episode of the Bund to Brooklyn podcast. The show is dually based in the metropolises of Shanghai and New York City and focuses on topics important to the Asian community from America to Greater China. 

The latest episode, the 10th since the podcast premiered on September 24, 2021, takes a deep dive into Chinese hip hop history and culture. 

Wes discusses how hip hop’s roots in the U.S. contribute to the genre’s growth in China and how hip hop has gone from a largely underground subculture to a fully mainstream phenomenon in the People’s Republic. 

He begins by talking about his journey from Los Angeles to Beijing and then Shanghai, and how he founded thePark, China’s longest-running hip hop radio show, in 2006.

The podcast panelists discuss their initial exposure to Chinese hip hop and dive into the genre’s evolution in China, beginning with the rise of East Asian hip hop pioneers like MC Hotdog, LMF, and MC Yan. 

They also explore some of the misconceptions about hip hop, the creative limitations that China-based rappers have to navigate, and how different artists and cultures draw influence from one another. 

Wes-Chen-Content-Producer

Wes Chen

“What makes hip hop unique is that it feeds from all cultures. That’s what hip hop is based on,” says Wes in the episode. 

“The styles of dance, the music, sampling all different genres of music from funk, soul, to disco, and further on would end up sampling music from other countries. That’s what made the original hip hop in America.”

Wes isn’t just a savant of sound design: He has a genuinely godlike inventory of rap knowledge waiting to flood your eardrums like hip hop holy water.

Be sure to listen to the end of the episode for his favorite hip hop artists and clubs, as well as why disgraced pop star Kris Wu sucks even more than you thought he did.

Bund to Brooklyn is sponsored by the San Francisco-based non-profit 1990 Institute and hosted by Brooklyn-based Lucia Liu and a rotating roster of China-based correspondents

In addition to thePark, Wes Chen also hosts two podcasts for RADII: joined by Bryan Grogan, SoundCheck covers the latest earworms coming out of China each month; and our most recent audio endeavor, China From All Angles, explores hot trends and fresh perspectives among Chinese youth.

Cover image via Wes Chen

Jesse Pottinger
    Jesse is a Vancouver-based journalist who spent four back-to-back summers living in Guangzhou and working with That’s magazines. He currently serves as a remotely-based junior editor with RADII. Jesse has spent considerable time traveling around China over the past half-decade and has something of a passion for dumplings. You can follow his adventures on Instagram at @messy_jesse.
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