Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII feature that looks at Chinese songs spanning classical to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.
In China, the term “OG” (original gangster, or original generation) is subject to some stipulations. For one, hip hop as a whole is still relatively new. When we talk about Big Daddy Kane or Nas as OG’s of the American hip hop scene, there’s no real China equivalent. Two, a lot of the original offerings of Chinese rap were pretty bad.
So really, the term “OG” is kind of flexible, and depends as much on musical contribution as it does on era of activity. You could argue that C-BLOCK are OG’s of their scene.
The Changsha rap group has been active since 2008 when they released their debut mixtape Xiang Show, referencing the Xiang River in their home province. They’ve been steadily grinding ever since, and their latest music video Bungee Jumping puts their years of experience front and center.
The track is a straight up early 2000s style banger — something totally unexpected, with other rappers all racing to dominate the exploding trap scene. The video is simple, basically just shots of the group rapping in different hometown locales with lots of quick cuts, but the end result is powerful. When was the last track we got out of China with the classic hook of “Everybody jump! Jump! Jump!”…? I’ll wait.
“So don’t tell me about your evil ways/My whole life’s been like a bungee jump/Everybody jump! Jump! Jump!”
Group member Damnshine even throws some relevant Rap of China references in there (“Does China have hip hop? Now everybody wants to come out and play,” and a bar about freestyling that pokes fun at rapper Big Dog’s infamously-meme’d first round on the show).
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Also of note, the slapping instrumental features another old school Chinese sample, something we’ve seen a lot of recently. With hip hop entering the mainstream and no longer able to avoid the public eye, a lot of rappers are trying to incorporate distinctly Chinese themes, government-friendly messages, or a combination of the two. We predict that the trend will likely yield some corny propaganda work, but it’s refreshing to see C-BLOCK flip the horns off a crackly old Mandarin sample and turn them into a booming beat that would make RZA from Wu-Tang Clan smile. We’ll be staying tuned in to C-BLOCK, and with a solid decade of experience under their belts, maybe they’ll be able to spread some knowledge to the young bucks coming into the spotlight right now.
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