The rise of Chinese hip hop

  • Author
  • Sino Team
  • September 13,2017

Hip hop is a genre of music you would associate mainly with western society, with huge talents emerging from the US and UK and being able to make a huge amount of money as a result. It is not particularly a genre that would be associated with China.

However, a new internet reality show named Rap Of China has given Chinese acts a platform to really make an impact in music and emerge from the streets, with rap videos on Chinese video hosting website IQIyi racking up over 2.5 billion views.

The culture being demonstrated has taken China by storm, with a new phrase being coined, "can you freestyle?" As a result of celebrity judge Kris Wu using it repeatedly to grill contestants.

Underground rappers have been brought to the fore in China as a result of the 12 episode show being hugely successful, names such as HipHopMan, PG One, and Tizzy T have been brought to public attention as a result of the new exposure.  

The roots of Chinese hip hop are thought to have begun long before this form of exposure, with momentum growing throughout the early 2000s as a result of western influences, with Eminem and Jay-Z being at the peak of their powers.

Hip hop was introduced to China before this momentum began, with records being imported in the early 90s and being played in clubs. Despite this, the genre has remained mostly underground.

Chinese acts have been able to gain label deals and perform at music festivals in the past, with some also being able to perform in clubs. Music venues and clubs promoting the genre have increased in China over the years as a result of national competitions such as the China Iron Mic.

Despite this, Chinese rap has mainly been seen as a hobby, with artists having to use their own money in order to record albums.

Whilst there have been criticisms of the show, with many stating that the elements of 'show biz' are emphasised to an extent that distorts the hip hop element of the show, it is clear that this form of promotion could prove to be groundbreaking for the Chinese rap industry.

Labels in China will undoubtedly be looking to rap acts more as a result of the breakthrough internet show, giving underground acts in China a greater chance to be recognised for their talents. 

One example of a rap act who have emerged through this new wave is the 'Higher Brothers,' who made big strides this summer with their album black cab.

They are often labelled as the "Chinese Migos," Migos being a well-known rap group in the US who have seen massive sales figures through their album 'culture,' which included hits such as 'bad and boujee,' as a result of their trap infused sound.

 The Higher Brothers use their Chengdu (a southern Chinese language) dialect to give a playful mood to their songs, something prominent within Chinese rap.

The Higher Brothers are one of the few break out acts so far, but with the genre becoming a fairly natural part of everyday discussion amongst younger people in China, it is undoubted that many will begin to take inspiration, and a new wave of Chinese talent is set to emerge.

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