Hip-Hop Coming of Age In China

Austin Arensberg has a post on thedevelopment of hip-hop in China. Quote:

But anyone that saw and heard the first attempts at Hip Hop in China would have chuckled showing just how far off target the MCs were. Many DJs wouldn’t even bother to rap in Chinese, offering instead the more ‘rappable’ English. But movements can’t be transplanted to a new place by mere duplication alone. 20 years after Deng Xiaoping presented China in the world’s largest debutant party it has been the critique that Chinese pop culture is as fake as the DVDs sold on its streets that has stuck.

Westerners have lamented for years that China’s cultural products were either heirlooms to the past or sad imitations of whatever was new and coolest in Europe or America. But over the past few years there has been considerable momentum indicating that Chinese cultural ambassadors are finding their own rythm. This past year saw an event in Shanghai with MCs rapping in Shanghainese, a dialect on the ropes reinvigorated with a raw and daring infusion of youthful energy. Black MCs in China sample old songs people have long forgotten, Chinese MCs sample a dying language.

China’s clubs from Ningxia to Beijing bump Hip Hop nightly and recently Star Club here in the capital had a raging night with a Japanese DJ spinning the newest hits to an adoring crowd of the young, rich, and powerful Chinese. The riots and violence of last spring seemed a world away.

Hip Hop tends to reinvent itself every few years feeding on the change rather than being redered obsolete. It is fitting than that Chinese youth, thrust unwittingly into a new hyper speed of development where all views are as foggy as the polluted skyline, have chosen to weave out of the madness a new form of music that is their own. I suspect that if those hipsters in Washinton Heights back in the early 1980’s could meet the kids in here in China’s clubs they would have more in common than most people would think.

One Response to “Hip-Hop Coming of Age In China”

  1. knibilnats says:

    When I was in China last year, I bought a compilation of Chinese Hip Hop. Some of the songs were just cheap imitations of western culture (a Hip Hop version of B-I-N-G-O? Rapping over the theme from Ghostbusters beat?) but some of the double album was cool. Not being allowed to criticize the government or the social condition does hurt the music though.

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