Yin: Chengdu Rap Duo Treasure Hill’s Moms Approve of New Track “Special Boy”


Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII feature that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.

As we slip out of summer, Rap of China S02 nears its drawn-out conclusion, and Chinese hip hop’s hangers-on continue to cash in on the hype, it’s time for another corrective, some more confidently weird and non-commercial rap vibes. Delivering just that is Treasure Hill, a rap duo formed in Chengdu at the beginning of this year. (The group was evidently born from erstwhile rap crew L1STALLDO, which has been at it since 2012, as it features the same core members: producer Sancebai 三册柏 and rapper Jintiaozao 金跳造.)

Treasure Hill fully emerged in July to release a swerving debut album of experimental hip hop entitled Climbing Treasure Hill. Here’s the opening track, “Special Boy”, which features Hohhot, Inner Mongolia rapper EDE on a guest verse:


On Xiami, Treasure Hill describe their debut album as a “modern rap mythology, a Divine Comedy of contemporary art,” literally name-checking Dante’s narrative epic of Heaven and Hell right there in the liner notes. Bold. “Special Boy” kicks the album off with some impressively abstract rhymes, such as my favorite:

蒙娜丽莎side B ?????call me 达利 / 没时间刮胡须需要我去抓紧时机

Mona Lisa side B? Call me Dali / No time to shave, need to seize the opportunity

On track two, “知更扁鹊”, the duo starts taking shots at the current hip hop zeitgeist, calling out blowhard “kings of battle” on a beat that samples the tortured opening strings of “Shook Ones”Madvillain’s “Accordion”, and the sound of a ping pong ball bouncing at different points.

Find the full album here (Chinese only, but you can take a crack at Google Translating the lyrics if you like), and for a bonus round, take in Bohan Phoenix‘s latest, which also includes some choice words for bad actors in the business of marketing China’s current rap wave:

If you’re near NYC or Toronto, catch Bohan headlining the Modern Sky festivals in this places on 9/22 and 9/23, respectively and follow RADII on Facebook and Twitter for a chance to win tickets to those shows.

You might also like:

Yin: Skr-less Avant Rap from Beijing’s DVC

Beijing Rapper Saber on the Hip Hop Wave, and “Rap of China” from the Inside

Where are They Now? “Rap of China” S01 Champs Hit the Silver Screen and Beef Online

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a US-based writer and musician, and RADII's former Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, MIT Technology Review, Artsy, Bandcamp Daily and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.
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