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[Help], [Help], [Help] the Police!

In response to the recent New York Times article about Hip-hop in China (and partly inspired by the execrable Jay Chou/Song Zuying performance on last night’s CCTV gala), I present to you a video that perfectly sums up, for me, everything that’s wrong with foreign attitudes to allegedly underground Chinese music.

A minor digression first: that NYT article is written to give the impression that “many students and working-class Chinese” are rhyming about the “bitterness that comes with realizing …[they are] left out of China’s economic boom.”

This is horseshit. The angry Chinese rap I’ve heard is generalized teenage angst with no attempt at social commentary. The most “daring” rap I’ve heard is predicated on schoolboy puns about smoking pot. And while I no longer make much of an attempt to follow the music scene here, I am familiar with the bands discussed in the NYT piece.

Let’s start with 隐藏 Yin Ts’ang, the originators of “在北京 In Beijing” — the song that, according to the article, “took the underground music scene by storm.” Sample lyrics:

真不用提饭馆 烤鸭和炸酱面
鬼街吃火锅 太多选择我的天

Cabs come in 1.2 kuai and 1.6 kuai prices.
The traffic’s usually not bad, but sometimes there are traffic jams.
You don’t have to worry about restaurants — roast duck and zhajiang noodles
Or Gui Jie to eat hotpot. There are too many choices, oh my god!

Wow, guys, tell it like it is.

阴三儿 Yin Sanr, the band whose name the article incorrectly and sloppily romanizes as “Yin Tsar,” and completely mistranslates as “The Three Shadows,”  has got more going for it in the anger department. The article mentions the band’s song 老师你好 “Hello Teacher” (skip ahead about a minute and a half to get to the actual rapping) which most certainly is an angry song:

你不要脸 无能的表现

You say you’re a role model but you spit on the ground outside
The only cunting thing you know how to do is phone my father
You’re shameless and useless
Do whatever you want but don’t touch my CD player
You fucking cunt
I’ll listen to music in class if I want to.
I’ll do my math homework in writing class.
I drew a big cock in my copy book, that’s what I think of you.

The NYT article translates the first line of this excerpt and then waggles its eyebrows, encouraging the reader to mentally connect “railing against the authority of unfair teachers” to seething antiauthoritarian rage. It doesn’t translate the rest of the song, which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the paragraph that precedes it, in which a young man complains about the wealth gap. Unless you equate hating high school with the potential for violent social upheaval, in which case I would have been the Che Guevara of my generation.

The author of the piece would have been much better off going with Yin Sanr’s song 北京晚报 “Beijing Evening News,” which does have political content and is a much, much better song. Sample lyrics (in Danwei’s translation): 


Big officials and leaders park outside night clubs
Girls hiding in the toilet
Whiskey and duck neck
Models and starlets
Sitting in a private room with stupid dicks
Cops patrolling, Dongbei pimps 
Lots of college girls
But student IDs get no discount
Beijing is building
But the people are changing
Who is responsible for all of this?

While I’m ranting, another problem with the NYT article: 说唱 shuochang, the word the piece gives for “hip-hop,” is “rap,” not hip-hop. The word for “hip-hop” is 嘻哈 xiha, a phonetic loan, and my impression (possibly wrong) is that people here who are into hip-hop would look upon the use of shuochang as a sign that someone was not part of the scene. Which the writer of that article clearly is not.

(Another small digression: I was planning to write something about the ultimate feasibility of rap in Mandarin as opposed to languages more phonologically suited for it, but this post has gone on long enough already. However, those of you who are interested in seeing rap perpetrated in languages not really built for it may enjoy Leimigi Thart, which answers the age-old question of how to say “I’ll serve your ass like John McEnroe / If your girl steps up, I’m smackin’ the ho!” in Irish.)
(“Freastloidh me thu ar nos John McEnroe / Ma shiulann do bheal suas, buailfidh me an ho!”)

Anyway, getting back to the start of this post: The effects of censorship on artistic creativity have been discussed before — David Moser had a wonderful piece on Danwei about the effect that the dictum that humor must 歌颂 rather than 讽刺 has had on the comic form of 相声 — but I think the video below really hammers the point home.

Happy New Year, everybody.


  1. Two things:

    1) The whole “listen to music in class if I want to” thing is totally gangsta.

    2) That Rush Hour clip is perfect.

    Monday, January 26, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Permalink
  2. Lawrence wrote:

    I’ve never listened to Yin Sanr or any Hip-Hop / rap from Beijing, but Chinese rap that does attempt at social commentary can be found in other parts of China, notably the now-defunct (?) LazyMothaFucka from Hong Kong.

    LMF is probably one of the few Chinese rap groups whose music you would associate with roughness and fury. A file titled ‘花园酒店员工rap.mp3’ being distributed online a while ago offers a case study: As the title suggests, it’s supposedly written and sung by employees dissatisfied with their employer Garden Hotel–a famous high-end hotel in Guangzhou. What’s curious about the song is the completely unangry way the female singer renders the mildly angry lyrics.

    Here’s the song for your listening pleasure:

    Btw, 厕所里躲着戏果儿 probably means ‘Picking up chicks in the toilet’. 戏果儿 is a verb here, not noun. I’m by no means an expert of Beijing underground slang, but this is the interpretation of a friend of mine who is.

    Monday, January 26, 2009 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  3. Lawrence wrote:

    Correction: A more accurate rendition would be ‘Making out with groupies in the toilet.’

    Monday, January 26, 2009 at 10:31 pm | Permalink
  4. Blake wrote:

    The NYT’s photo for the piece is quite apropos for the tourist-journalist’s take on “Chinese hip-hop” and the “country’s urban youth”: Every single person in the photo is a foreigner.

    Monday, January 26, 2009 at 10:32 pm | Permalink
  5. Che, it’s good to have you cranking out the prose again. The last double-post month was August, and no one’s convinced that Olympic snark really counts. This one made up for lost time, though…
    “Wow, guys, tell it like it is” — I almost spewed lukewarm corporate coffee out my nose as the boss walked into my office.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 12:31 am | Permalink
  6. Micah Sittig wrote:

    To add some context:

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 1:09 am | Permalink
  7. @Lawrence — Yeah; the translation for those lyrics is Danwei’s, not mine. 果儿 there is probably from the term 色果 (“shaiguo”) for “chicks” (particularly bangable chicks), which I’m told dates back fairly far in entertainment circles, but remains current in punk circles.
    Thanks for the LMF link. I was given a CD of theirs a while back, but my Cantonese is limited pretty much to food and obscenities, so I missed out on a lot of it. It strikes me that non-Mandarin rap would be a good topic for another post: I heard a couple Shanghainese rap songs a while ago that seemed to work much better as rap than the Mandarin stuff I’ve heard, maybe because of the tonal system in Shanghainese.

    @Micah — Thanks for the link. Wang is presumably no dummy, but this is, no matter how you slice it, a bad article.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 4:46 am | Permalink
  8. Lawrence wrote:


    I didn’t know the term 果儿 until a few weeks ago when the aforementioned Beijing-slang-savvy friend gave us a presentation about all kinds of edgy slangs. According to him, 果儿 is simply a transliteration of Groupies, and, contrary to your sources, originated from the punk scene and spread to other artsy circles. Well, I don’t know which is true.

    And just to be clear, the linked song is not LMF’s but an anonymous group supposed to be (ex-)employees of the Garden Hotel.

    The only Shanghainese rap I’ve listened to is MC Tang’s ‘No. 1’:

    (Dropbox is so convenient!)

    Btw, gave 北京晚报 a shot, not impressed. Music is banal, as for the lyrics, I don’t think Beijing Wanbao and the values associated with it are relevant for Yin San’r’s audience. I know it’s more about corrupted officials and all, but it’s easy social criticism because their audience is only marginally interested in those stuff. How about targeting Modern Weekly and the fake-, superficial-creativity / DIY / taste they advocate? That would be spot-on.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink
  9. @Lawrence — regarding content: I’m not expecting Public Enemy (though God knows it’d be nice); I’m just hoping for one single spark of originality. For that I do think 北京晚报 delivers; it may come from a very basic political consciousness, but at least it’s got more going for it than the previously mentioned tunes.
    So far as social relevance goes, the best I know is still Cui Jian. And, going back to Public Enemy: as good as Lao Cui is, he’s not Chuck D, and someone needs to tell him this.

    I do also have a rant, possibly forthcoming (though let’s face it, it’ll be really boring) about the tendency to place an apostrophe before the “r” — “Yin San’r,” “chuan’r,” etc. This is incorrect according to the Pinyin standard — there are rules, you know! — as the 儿话音 is not syllabic. Thus, “Yin Sanr,” not “Yin San’r” etc.

    For some reason, English-language publications in Beijing got into this (wrong, bad, evil) habit years ago, and even some academics who should know better (Geremie Barme etc.) are using it — so I suppose it’s probably just a done deal now and I’m just shouting into the wind. But goddamnit there are rules.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 9:56 am | Permalink
  10. Alainna wrote:

    WTF, that’s Mojo in the NYT photo. He and his group totally do not count.

    I only accept rap in French and English. I’ve yet to hear it done decently in any language besides.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 10:17 am | Permalink
  11. Alainna wrote:

    Oh, I take it back. My sister’s played me decent Spanish and Spanglais rap. Aside from those.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  12. Not sure if you’ve seen this, but this 东北话 rap/hip-hop/whatever from Tommy 小驴 was pretty hilarious. In fact, all his stuff on Youtube was 很吊.

    (h/t to eswn, whose 黄牛三人党 link led me to the discovery of Tommy.)

    Loved your Cui Jian and Chuck D comments.

    By the way, not sure if you know this, your site is blocked by all corporate networks in the US that I’ve worked with so far, citing the presence of lewd/porn stuff. I had to wait until I come home to make this comment.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink
  13. Spelunker wrote:

    I can easily write better rap lyrics in Chinese than these immature imbeciles, and I’m a foreigner!
    I’ll go toe-to-toe on CCTV with any rapper in China and humiliate them with my magnificent Mandarin rhymes.






    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  14. Seb wrote:

    Hez, what about Taiwans MC HotDog or (I think its 哈狗棒 in Chinese), they make really funny eminem style raps

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 3:13 pm | Permalink
  15. Pete wrote:

    Well said, Brendan. Overindulged (and overindulging) kids do not a social revolution make.

    BTW Seb, MC Hotdog is MC热狗. I’ve been known to bust out 我爱台妹 in the K歌, but I think the most hard-hitting thing he’s ever done is gripe about mandatory military service. But who knows, maybe I haven’t given him enough of a chance…

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  16. slowboat wrote:

    A minor digression first: that NYT article is written to give the impression that “many students and working-class Chinese” are rhyming about the “bitterness that comes with realizing …[they are] left out of China’s economic boom.”

    i’m no defender of the NYT, but your cribbing of the NYT quote above is far more misleading than anything that appears in the article that you criticize.

    two points:

    1. the quoted clause that precedes your ellipses is separated from the quoted clause that follows by no fewer than 9 paragraphs and several sub-themes;

    2. the first quoted clause is a general contextual statement made by the author while the second is a paraphrased statement made by an attributed individual.

    if you wanna riff on language then, by all means, go ahead. but don’t set up a straw man as a snarky prelude to your larger point. it costs you credibility.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Permalink
  17. sophy wrote:

    I’m Chinese. I gotta say that hip hop really isn’t that popular in China.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 6:44 am | Permalink
  18. stevelaudig wrote:

    from what I can tell, being an oral english teacher in changsha, the carpenters are more popular with these students [admittedly a business college] than any hip hop, rap, or even rock. they seem to enjoy some of the worst popular music from the 1970s [I’m waiting for “Billy Don’t be a Hero” to make an appearance. “Seasons in the Sun” is already a monster hit]. But i’m just going by the sound and emotional timbre of the singing not the words as I have approximately [rounding downward] zero Chinese. but I did enjoy your gutting of the NYT writer [they pick a point to make and seem to write to it rather than letting the facts drag them to the story. But heck why should music, as a topic, be treated any different from the Iraq war] who should go with what he knows. keep up the sparkling good work. I will now check your site regularly.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 8:23 am | Permalink
  19. Kaiser wrote:

    Nice. Just to clarify on the word  果儿, in the 80s when I first heard it used by the rock crowd it simply meant “chick” (there being a conspicuous absence of anyone qualifying as a “groupie” back in those more innocent days) and only morphed to take on the meaning “groupie” only in the last five or six years, and then only among the younger musicians and their circle. The phrase 戏果儿 (xiguor) meant “to seduce women” though it seems now to mean “hook up with groupies” in some contexts. (In the 80s and 90s the word for consummating the act with a 果儿 was 收果儿). I never heard 色果儿, only 色糖果儿 (shaitang guor), meaning “white chicks,” who were venerated as the primary source of income for Beijing’s rock musicians back in the day. In the Beijing rocker slang, which old school rock guys all tell me had its origins with the itinerant actors and song-and-dance troops of Republican and possibly even late Qing days, 果儿 is modified by jian1 (written sometimes as 奸 crafty, sometimes as 尖 for sharp) for the good-looking ones and 苍 (cang1) for those deemed more homely. Same modifiers for guys (孙). Women could also 戏孙 or 收孙.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink
  20. JH wrote:

    As a former participant in the Beijing hip-hop scene, I’d say the article is decent. Like all foreign-associated journalists who have approached this topic, I suspect the author had written half the article before his first interview (voice of rebellion, disaffected youth, blah blah blah). But at least he does seem aware of the way the mainstream Chinese music industry very quickly commodified and absorbed limited hip-hop imagery, preventing the nascent local scene from making any money.

    Also, shuochang means rap specifically, but only TV presenters and industry clowns say xiha. Everyone just says hip-hop.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink
  21. froog wrote:

    Great stuff, Brendan. And almost worth being two hours late getting down the boozer for.

    I look forward to similar dissections of the Chinese punk and metal and indie scenes. I believe you have strong opinions also on the supposed ‘edginess’ of the lyrics of bands like RETROs and PK14.

    Did you see that pie chart the online WSJ posted last summer analysing topics of criticism on Chinese blogs? I reprinted it on my blog. Most of the criticism of government, whether at local or national level, was considered to be ‘implicit’ only, and any criticism of the leadership was vanishingly rare. This may explain why musical forms based on political and social protest haven’t made much headway in China (why, why, WHY is there no blues to speak of in China??).

    Did I tell you that I once met a nice girl from Bei Da in 2 Kolegas who assured me with great earnestness that the reason why reggae was so popular in China was that it was “a music of rebellion”? I always thought it was mostly about loving your fellow man and getting high as often as possible; but maybe that does count as pretty “rebellious” for Chinese kids.

    I’m sure there are one or two bands out there who have some NWA-style “Kill the pigs!” lyrics (quite possibly RETROs and PK14). Please investigate further and let us know.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink
  22. I am a Chinese Hip Hop artist and it seems to me like none of the participants of this forum are familiar with the Chinese Hip Hop scene. This is partly our fault, because we, the Chinese Hip Hop artists, are too caught up in our own egos and meaningless conflicts within our microscopic scene, which takes our focus away from improving, expanding and presenting ourselves adequately to the public. The talent is there, it simply lacks guidance.

    I have been active in this scene since 2004 under the alias Young Kin. In 2005 I was asked to join Yin Ts’ang, but by then the crew was already dispersing, thus I decided to go my own way. The Yin Ts’ang members mentioned in the NYT article are close friends of mine and Jeremy Johnson is my business partner; we run YinEnt together, the independent label mentioned in the NYT article and hope to bring some relevant change to the Chinese hip hop scene in the coming year.

    Let me start with the NYT article. I agree with what JH wrote: half of the NYT article was probably written before the first interview. I also think that if a journalist writes an article about “Chinese Rap”, he or she should interview more than one crew. Besides that, individuals who decide to write about Chinese hip hop should be able to comprehend Chinese; this would help them avoid faulty translations and misquotations.

    Concerning the current state of Chinese hip hop in the mainstream I agree with Brendan. Jay Chou’s appearance on CCTV’s 新年晚会 sums it up quite nicely. It’s garbage and so is most of the underground hip hop. Why? Because most Chinese hip hop fans only listen to the music of a rap record but are oblivious to the lyrical content, which does not allow them to understand hip hop culture comprehensively. Naturally a Chinese kid, who does not speak English and tries to make a rap song that sounds just like the one he just heard at MIX (Beijing’s most popular hip hop club) will say “Make it rain” without knowing that the phrase entails poring dollar bills on a stripper.

    Concerning Brendon’s comment on “在北京” by Yin Ts’ang: I can only partially agree with you. However, the song had to be simple, maybe almost retarded in order for it to get radio play and mainstream media attention. It had to be ”阳光“ (sunny), which seems to be the favorite term for the ministry of culture to describe lyrics that they endorse. I could have never written a song like that, however I do respect them for writing it, because it did break the mold for Beijing hip hop. I see it as a necessary stepping stone. I wonder if there would have been an NWA without there being a more lyrically subtle and sanguine Tripe Called Quest before them to pave the way.

    In case anyone does not know what consequences political statements can cost Chinese artists, let me enlighten you: the terminations of ones public artistic career, jail time, exile or in a foreign national’s case: deportation. That is why I think foreign nationals are relevant in this scene. It is their responsibility to say what the locals cannot. It is a challenge to get your material to the years of the people though. The internet is like a big garbage pile. By the somewhat ignorant statements made by several participants of this forum alone one can see that finding some good material online is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

    Radio is even more controlled. Last time I was on China national radio, I was infuriated. It was against the stations policy to play a politically conscious songs. Instead they played American tracks with profane language and chauvinistic remarks. Even Chinese tracks with profane language could be played as long as they weren’t socially critical.

    Even record labels are complaining that almost all Chinese underground hip hop artists are only writing about themselves and fail to address social issues. Paradoxically, every time they have a socially conscious artist in their hands they try to mold him into a pop idol, which entails dumbing the artist down considerably.

    Concerning the remarks about Yin Sanr, their English name, by the way, is In3, and I do not think they are trying to be political at all. They simply enjoy making dirty tracks and venting over hip hop beats. Their key member Chen Hao Ran, writer of “老师好“ (the teacher song) is a clarinet player in the National Chinese Orchestra. I believe that In3 is his personal fun project, which he uses to ventilate verbally. I do not think that there is any other ideology behind it other than “I don’t give a flying fuck about what you think about me.” I do not see anything being wrong with that.

    I would like to invite everyone to my myspace [] so that you can see for yourself, if all angry Chinese rap is truly just “generalized teenage angst with no attempt at social commentary” as Brendan had wrote in his article. Maybe Mr. O’Kane should have waited a little longer before he stopped following the local scene and decided to deride it.

    I wish everyone a belated happy Chinese new year and would like to thank you for taking interest in the Chinese rap scene. We certainly do need the dialogue.

    – Andreas Yi Jun Hwang

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 11:54 pm | Permalink
  23. Great comment, Andreas. Thanks.
    You’re right about me being unfair about 在北京 — my main problem with that song is that I got it stuck in my head a few years ago and it occasionally resurfaces. Some of the people involved in Yin Ts’ang are very talented, and I don’t think “In Beijing” is the best of their works by a long shot.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:08 am | Permalink
  24. I think so too. J and I just had a session in the studio. We are working on our new compilation for YinEnt, where we feature more young talent. Hopefully it will convince people that there are thoughtful Chinese hip hop artists. Thank you for opening this dialogue. Although I appreciate the publicity the NYT article gave us, I do not think it was as insightful as it could have been. I was also disappointed that my name was not mentioned…lol. It is hard not to be vain sometimes…

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:52 am | Permalink
  25. Are there any artists in particular you’d recommend? As I said, I don’t really follow the scene — it’s been months since I got out to a gig of any kind — but I’d love to know more about what’s going on. Would you have any interest in writing an article presenting the scene from your point of view, as a counterpoint to the NYT piece?

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 1:06 am | Permalink
  26. Bob E. wrote:


    As someone who IS familiar with the hip-hop scene in China (unlike yourself), let me start off by saying a couple things.

    1) There is plenty of political Chinese hip-hop. While you’re correct in stating that most of the hip-hop of Yin Tsang and Yin Sar isn’t that political, if you read jimmy’s article carefully, you’ll notice that it wasn’t either of these groups that he quotes for being political or antiestablishment–he quoted the freestyle rap of a Dongbei rapper. I know jimmy and although I don’t know about this article, I am sure this was intentional-whomever he quotes will certainly have to deal with the political repercussions and fallout of appearing in an article. By quoting the Dongbei rapper but not giving away his group name, he is protecting his source. Your attacks on him illustrate that it is you who know nothing about the hip-hop scene. As a matter of fact, several emcees IN the hip-hop scene whose websites have been blocked have all gone out of their way to complement this article to me and are HAPPY that hip-hop in china is getting exposure at all. You sure have done a lot for chinese hip-hop.

    2) I’ve been following your blog for a while. You’ve done some great stuff in the past and I’ve even referred your blog to other friends of mine, but it’s also clear to me that you’re a hater bent on illustrating yourself as an authority on China, when clearly, you have no idea of what it takes to be even a marginally responsible blogger or source of news and opinions for people. While I applaud your blog and some of the positive things you’ve done in the past, your attempts at being the authority use warped logic, as in the case of your attack on this article–and you should be careful about this.

    3) The issue of China is polarized right now-it seems that on any issue, this article aside, Americans don’t get the complete picture, and neither do the Chinese. This article chose to highlight the subversive rap that is about struggle in China-which there is plenty of-rather than on the teenage angst or fun rap that is out there. But what it says about the music industry is true. I think the problem is that there isn’t enough truth about China in general, without super nationalist chinese media criticism or arrogant, self-proclaimed authorities like yourself rushing to attack and prove yourself right, or the polar opposite-american journalists who don’t know crap about china and can’t speak chinese trashing china.

    I happen to know jimmy, and he does speak chinese-quite well, unlike many other american reporters. I’m sure he knows the difference between xiha and shuochang, and i’ve forwarded your blog post to him.


    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  27. XINT wrote:


    I got forwarded your blog post from a friend.
    You know jack shit about hip-hop.

    You know jack shit about rap in china.

    I am a hip-hop MC in Shanghai, and I just want you to know i’m sick of nerds like you who study chinese and think they’re hot shit. I don’t know you, but I can tell from your pitiful blog the type of person you are.

    I’m sick of white dudes like you who have asian fetish coming to china, boning girls, thinking you’re hot shit, when you can’t even get girls back home fromwhatever shithole you crawled out of. China boosts up your ego; you have western worshipping chinese peasant girls suck your dick and it makes you think you’re king. you ain’t no king; you’re slime. You’re lower than low. You’re fucking pathetic. You’re a “grade A loser,” as they say. All you’ve got to do with your time is write your jealousy filled, hater posts about contradicting someone who has done better than you. I hope you get AIDS from one of the hookers you’ve been banging, you cocksucking CIA spy motherfucker.


    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 8:43 am | Permalink
  28. Ryan wrote:

    @Brendan: Awesome post.

    @Andreas: Awesome comment.

    @Bob: “you have no idea of what it takes to be even a marginally responsible blogger or source of news” – lets not confuse a rant on a blog as a “source of” anything, most certainly nothing even “marginally responsible” – you’re a fool if you do.

    Until the NYTs pays Brendan what they paid Jimmy for the article – his responsibility is nothing more than his thoughts and opinions, which he gave.

    And I’m not entirely sure how one can lay insult by saying people are “arrogant, self-proclaimed authorities”, while in the same breath prove you are just that? Kettles and pots I suppose.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink
  29. Meg wrote:

    “Unless you equate hating high school with the potential for violent social upheaval, in which case I would have been the Che Guevara of my generation.”

    Haha! This is my new favorite quote!

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  30. Tracy Wu wrote:

    To Brendan,

    You are nothing but a common hater posing as a knowledgeable academic. And I notice that a lot of these heads who have linked to you are fellow academic haters who enjoy reading you flame other people, but they’re mostly just haters too! A network of haters who pat each other on the back and beat each other off to the sound of their own postings.

    You stink! And you haven’t done anything for the hip-hop community in China. Get a life

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
  31. Andrew wrote:

    I am a hiphop MC in Hong Kong.
    I thought the NYT article was pretty good.
    Brendan you’re like a lot of guys in the music industry. They shoot each other up when other people do well. They do drive bys when other people go platinum and they don’t. guys locked up in a cycle of hate who could never rise above it cause they’re too poor/ talentless.


    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  32. Andreas beat me to the punch but I wanted to add a few more thoughts about this post and several of the comments. I am an American citizen who researched Hip Hop in China in 2005 and 2008. Though I was not a part of writing the NYT article, several of the pictures in the article and video were taken from my research blog (

    I think the article is good, if overambitious. The author spoke with a few artists in Beijing and used his findings to generalize about Hip Hop throughout China. I’m happy he interviewed seminal artists like Yin Tsang and DJ Wordy. I think the basic story is correct. However, he undoubtedly overstated the popularity of rap music and misrepresented the general tenor. Most rap music in China does not have a political agenda. Andreas touches on many important reasons why. Most rap music is being made by young kids who have no context or understanding of Hip Hop culture and can only emulate the posturing, style and attitude of popular Hip Hop artists. Quality, original rap music also lacks promotion. If the article had included Hip Hop dance instead of just rap, the statements of its popularity would be a bit more accurate as Hip Hop dance is much more widespread, visible in popular media, and recognized by average people. The article is also very short on history of how Hip Hop came to China. The audience has no understanding of the development of Hip Hop and the music industry in general to appreciate the significance of pop-rap and Jay Chou as compared to In3. The paragraphs on In3 and Jay Chou are also too sparse. Also, unlike the article suggests, I’ve read nothing to suggest that Jay Chou considers himself to be a rapper now and I do not think Jay Chou and In3 fans are mutually exclusive. I think the fleeting mention of “shuochang” and its mistranslation missed a great opportunity talk about local practices that have been incorporated into Hip Hop. Though Chinese “shuochang” is a completely different genre of music than rap, the article does not complicate the idea of one-way appropriation of rap music from the US to China.

    As for Yin Ts’ang and the song “Welcome to Beijing”, I agree that this song is not Yin Ts’ang at their best. It is simple and catchy and makes kids and first year Chinese students excited that they too can learn a rap song. However, this song and the album were hugely influential. “Welcome to Beijing” is the song that rappers from Shantou to Urumqi will say is one of the first Mainland rap songs they ever heard, it’s the song and the album that helped them believe in the potential of Chinese rap in the Mainland and their own potential to become a rapper. Certainly MC Hotdog and Davey from Taiwan and LMF from HK were also early influences. But, in Mainland China I don’t believe any album lit a spark as hot as “Serve the People”. I think the fact that everyone is always talking about this one song is a testament to its popularity and power. Given context that Andreas listed about the limitations of rappers and the territoriality of Hip Hop in general, I don’t find it surprising that a song like “Welcome to Beijing” would exist. It is the obligatory anthem to one’s city. Just like Lyrics Born “The Bay”, Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz “Deja Vu”, or JD and Luda’s “Welcome to Atlanta”. And just like JD and Luda probably do not want their legacy to just be:
    “Welcome to Atlanta where the playas play
    And we ride on them things like every day
    Big beats, hit streets, see gangsta’s roamin’
    And parties dont stop til’ eight in the mornin'”
    I’m sure the members of Yin Ts’ang want to be remembered for both the importance of “Welcome to Beijing” and “Serve the People” but also their best work.

    I also think calling out Uranus and their song “Da Ma” for not being “daring” enough is similar to calling out In3. Uranus describes their style as “pop-party rap” and while they are interested in flow, rhymes and dope beats, they have never qualified themselves as a political group. Given what they are actually interested in, it should be noted that Dai Bao Jing has an amazing flow and Garden is a very good producer.

    As for In3’s originality, I think that they absolutely have to make their own music. They need beats that complement and give power to their lyrics. However, I think that they are offering lyrics that are insightful, entertaining and resonate with the crowd. Catch a In3 performance or go to Section 6 and witness dozens of kids literally spitting the words to “老师好”. Then, in the very anthropological view that all things are political, think about the fact that what we laud as being “critical” is denouncing systemic and daily oppressions and injustices in ones’ life and society. With the future of the average Chinese kid so heavily determined by navigating the education system, how destabilizing would a widespread denunciation of the Chinese education system be?

    As for finding more socially conscious rap or rap with really interesting lyrics, the Internet is certainly a crapshoot and if you only speak some Mandarin, like me, language is going to be a barrier. If you can get lyrics or have the opportunity to talk with the artists, I recommend Jiangzhe and Dumdue in Guangzhou, Co Op Sol in Kunming and 6 City in Urumqi. In Beijing, check out Andreas and Big Dog.

    I am clearly a fan of Chinese rap and I am quick to defend it, but I think that so many criticisms of Chinese rap for its lack of explicit political commentary are unfair and uninformed. I think most people making rap music are young kids and for most, the age of political maturation comes well after puberty, I don’t think many rappers are ready or interested in having informed, explicit political commentary in their rap. Andreas certainly has more experience with dealing with censors and demands of record labels and has laid out many important reasons why there is no Chuck D in China. I also think a powerful form of censorship is self-censorship. Would you write and put out a song that no one will support and could potentially get you in trouble? I think lessons have been learned by all in the music industry from the heavy censorship of rock music and Hip Hop artists would be wise to try to avoid going down that road until the scene has matured.

    As foreigners with somewhat of an understanding of China, it is irresponsible to say to rappers, “Those extended metaphors and euphemisms really aren’t bringing home the message. Why not just come out and say ‘Our freedom of speech is freedom or death, We got to fight the power that be’?” when death is actually an option (or at least the death of your career). We know China is not very tolerant of ardent social critics with potential to gain a following. For now Hip Hop is under the radar and, perhaps that gives artists room to push the envelope, but I’m sure many artists want to keep it that way.

    Also, I think that its too simplistic too look at the political nature of some Hip Hop in the U.S. and immediately look for the equivalent in China. Aren’t the critiques of a lack of creativity and originality based in the idea that Hip Hop in China is simply derivative of the U.S.? Is straight imitation only acceptable when it comes to lyrical content and explicit political agendas? I do hope to see more rappers pay attention to lyrical content and think critically about the intended meanings of their work, but I accept that political and social critiques may come in a form very different than U.S. rap.

    Lastly I hope everyone remembers that Hip Hop is as much about parties as it is about politics. I would argue even more about parties at its inception. People say the “first” political single was Grandmaster Flash “The Message” which came out in 1982 and the “first” political group was Public Enemy whose first album was in 1987. What was everyone else talking about? Was there a lapse in political consciousness or was it simply not as direct as people like to assume Hip Hop to have always been? I don’t believe if you are a Hip Hop fan, even if you love “conscious” rap, that you are bumping Paris and KRS-One all day. There’s too much to enjoy in Hip Hop and everything needs balance. Political commentary also needs to be coupled with community action and organizing. As commentator Pete wrote “overindulged kids do not a social revolution make” but neither do political rappers a social revolution make. What tangible social changes has the music alone of Public Enemy or NWA brought about for Black Americans or poor urban communities? You can’t just speak about it, you have to be about it. Rappers can use their platform to speak to truth to power, raise awareness and galvanize communities but change comes from sound leadership and pushing for community development and progressive reform.

    Ok, let me stop before I start going off about Obama. Happy New Year everyone! Please check out the blog for more info. It has links to lots of MySpace pages. Also, look at,,, and

    Let’s keep up the discussion and keep it positive.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink
  33. Mc Ambition wrote:

    Wow, Youngkin and Angela Steele. 2 interesting people I met, while I was rapping in China.

    Well, my take on all of China’s hip hop scene is that it can’t be stopped. The only people that can kill the scene are the rappers themselves.

    There is a lot of work to be done. However, I have faith in China’s hip hop. For all of its problems, I have met some truly interesting individuals that encouraged me to step up my game.

    I met a rapper recently from Guangdong(sp). He basically, focused on rap so much, that his grades started slipping. I encouraged him to focus on his studies more. He is now, a great student, but his drive fueled me to work harder.

    I think its true, the rap underground in China is still in it’s infant stages. A lot of young rappers are looking at the world without a fully developed eye.

    Give it time and China’s hip hop will be a powerful force.

    Right now, the decisions rappers make determin if the game will grow or kill itself. But, I see some positive things going on…

    I wish the best for China.


    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Permalink
  34. @XINT, Andrew, Tracy Wu: Although I appreciate you guys trying to defend the hard work everyone has put into the local scene, I do urge you to keep your arguments objective. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it takes reason rather than insults to win an argument.

    @Brian: Other than In3 and Yin Ts’ang I recommend Lil Ray (Beijing), Da Gou (Wuhan), Tang Ren Ti (Kunming), Shuang Zi (Beijing), Tiger from C.O.U. (Beijing), Mason (Xi’an), 6 City (Xinjiang) and Master Mic (Hong Kong).

    I would be interested in writing and article, but I don’t know if I can be objective enough as an active member of the hip hop scene. However, I highly recommend Angela Steele and Lila Babs as foreign hip hop journalists. I have personally witnessed them travel the country for months to talk to local hip hop artist personally and have seen them at many local hip hop shows spanning from Beijing to Wuhan. These ladies put in a lot of work where other foreign journalists did not even bother. Much love and respect.

    Bad Brain is also a very good local hip hop journalist, he is based in Beijing. The team also has a very competent editor called Rafaello or Sam, he is based in Shanghai.

    All of these people can do a much better job than I can.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  35. Blake wrote:

    I apologize for my previous comment. Didn’t realize that Jimmy Wang did that piece. While I have been disappointed by several Beijing-related pieces in the Times over the past year, this is the first I’ve seen of Wang’s work that wasn’t up to snuff. Thanks, Micah for point that out. Wang is quality … but I think this piece will unintentionally mislead a large part of its audience Stateside.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Permalink
  36. Blaze one wrote:

    A normal hip hop party. People seem to be having fun.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Permalink
  37. JH wrote:

    Lots of good stuff in this thread. One additional point should be made. As a former member of the scene, I think the real limiting factor is the lack of infrastructure for the chinese music scene in general. Consider that in the US or Europe there are of course big pop stars that play arenas and show up on MTV and there are starving artists who play in dive bars for 50 bucks and free beer. But there is also a large middle ground of artists who may not often appear on television or even radio, but who have a fan base, tour regularly, and make at least a decent living as a FULL-TIME PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN. In point of fact most hip-hop artists (or if I can make an assumption most hip-hop that people commenting on this blog love) fall into this category. So do most blues artists not named BB or Buddy, most Jazz artists not named Wynton, and any number of other genre-specific artists.

    The problem is that China can only support the pop star and the bar band. There simply is no infrastructure for the support of mid-range music. There is a lack of appropriate music venues, particularly outside of Beijing and Shanghai, there are very few if any trustworthy managers or booking agents, very few promotors, and little in the way of outside revenue from advertising and sponsorship to fill the gaps.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 12:43 am | Permalink
  38. FOARP wrote:

    I’ll freely admit that I know bugger all about the Chinese Hip Hop scene except what little I gleamed during my time as a club singer (don’t ask), but judging by the venom coming from some of the commenters, I think a diss record is being cut for you right now O’Kane!

    Meantime, yeah, I’ve heard that mainland people prefer to do hip hop (and I’ve only ever heard it called ‘Hip-Hop’) in their home dialect. The only hip-hop I’ve ever heard done freestyle was in Nanjinghua, but that’s because I only ever heard freestyle done once in China.

    I don’t know why you list Jay Chou as a disaster for mainland Chinese hip-hop. Firstly the guy is Taiwanese, secondly he does R&B – I’ve never heard him call himself a hip-hop artist. Taiwan’s most famous hip-hop star was MC Hotdog (who’s most famous song, Han liu lai xi, was mainly a diss on Taiwanese musicians), and I would say that he is more of an influence on mainland hip-hop that Jay Chou. Although, like I said, I know almost bugger all.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 5:06 am | Permalink
  39. Jim G. wrote:

    I know nothing about hip-hop, though it sounds like “One hip-hop, two systems.” Keep on posting and getting all the girls. You demon!

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 10:15 am | Permalink
  40. Prince Roy wrote:

    I think you’re too hard on the NY Times guy–it wasn’t a great article, but informative (and accurate) enough for the typical NY Times reader.

    Although I was scratching my head at that quote from Johnston, who says he moved to BJ in the late 90s, ‘because it was the thing no one else was doing.’ Hell, that’s when ALL the foreigners started showing up–if he had said the early 90s, it would’ve made more sense.

    Hip Hop is nothing to me–maybe that’s why I find the self-righteous anger of some commenters, who have Taken Offense From a Blog Post, so side-splittingly funny, so thanks for the laughs guys.

    The Che remark is classic, btw.

    Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 4:54 am | Permalink
  41. sean w. wrote:

    korean rap/hip hop is excellent. the korean language is comprised mostly of words ending in vowels, making rhyming supereasy. Alainna (comment number 10), your comments expose your ignorance. and ignorance is hilarious when exposed publicly.

    Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 7:37 am | Permalink
  42. dudeguy wrote:

    It’s ok to have a comment.

    Monday, February 2, 2009 at 5:52 am | Permalink
  43. Scott Sykes wrote:

    Hi Brendan, just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading this post and comments thread. You have an opinion, and you backed it up with some facts. Clear to see in the comments that some folks strongly disagree with you, but it’s all good, makes for a healthy debate and interesting reading. Thanks.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink
  44. stuart wrote:

    Brendan, thanks for the post.

    XINT, thanks for the laugh of the day.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
  45. Chris A. wrote:

    My two cents is that Yin Ts’ang’s album 花天酒地 is refreshingly original and intelligent, traits someone living in Beijing appreciates immensely.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Permalink
  46. Cooper wrote:

    So, now everyone is angry at Brendan for being critical of a Western newspaper’s sloppy reporting on China.

    Short of seeing a man eat his own head, now I’ve seen everything.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 8:58 pm | Permalink
  47. Malika wrote:

    I read the article in the NYT, the reaction here in this blog, and the comments: eventually I got an image which is complex, and I like it, it goes to the real.
    Thank you Brendan as you called for passion and you got it … Nice shot.
    Good laugh at XINT comment :) –
    Angela : just keep on writing articles like this, sharing your interest, discoveries and researches – it’s almost like starting a book. Waiting for more.
    Well, Andreas, you are a part of it. Writing an article is more a question related to whether you have time for that or not. Of course, obviously your media IS Hip-Hop, this is where you express yourself. But according to the way you wrote in this present blog, it shows that you have a point of view, and that’s what matters, in a formal article, in a blog or in a song. You made a point though, you very clearly showed how mature Hip-Hop can be, here, as everywhere else. It’s so much a question of individual!
    Teenage Hip-Hop, Pop Hip-Hop, derivation of Hip-Hop like Slam, social, political, poetical, biographic, chauvinist, whatever, every form of art has its interpretation, from copy-cats to traitors going through all possible forms, classical, humorous, provocative, harsh…
    In some cases the actual emptiness might come from censorship, lack of education or laziness. It might as well be the result of a general disillusion, linked to worldwide phenomenon. Not knowing how to replace contestation by bitter hopes
    I don’t link content to political incorrectness. I hope the self-perception of freedom of expression goes beyond this.
    I wish you all happy birth year for this year; it has been 60 years that the People Republic of China was created. …

    Saturday, February 7, 2009 at 3:30 am | Permalink
  48. 洋胰子 wrote:


    Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 10:44 pm | Permalink
  49. Dwayne Stillman wrote:

    Let me just say this: Unlike Brendan O’Kane, the journalist for this article is in the hip-hop scene. He knows dozens of Chinese rappers, and not just in Beijing. How do I know this? Because I ran into him at a hip hop event last week at a club in Beijing,

    I’ve never seen Brendan O’Kane at a hip hop event. NOT ONE. Truth be told, if he were to even try to hang in this scene, he’d get eaten alive. I’ve never seen him, but I’ve heard he’s a skinny white guy who pees his pants at the site of hard niggaz (i.e. Chinese rappers).

    While some of the comments against Brendan are totally irrelevant to this discussion, I do agree that O’kane makes his living bitching about other people’s work, not doing his own. Telling fact: he’s gotten the most hits to his site off of this post where he bitches and shows his complete lack of knowledge on Chinese hip hop. That’s why he hasn’t posted anything since! He’s still trying to give his hater post more airtime. Pathetic.

    Monday, March 9, 2009 at 1:42 am | Permalink
  50. hsknotes wrote:

    I think my favorite is the racism. Nothing like racism to win the debate and smear your opponent. Stay classy.

    I think it fits in quite nicely with the interesting situation where a lot of the ‘scene’ in china is has a lot of ‘western-born or raised’ people either performing, attending, supporting, or ‘dating’, at least in some of the larger cities. It touches on the bomb that is the notion of ‘identity’ in china. I think people (foreigners mostly) don’t write about ‘odd’ things like 王力宏 being one of the major faces of Taiwan or the rap and punk scene in china having these ‘sprinklings’, to say the least, of ‘not born and raised in china’ influence, because it’s kind of clear what’s up and how identity and ethnicity operates in greater china, but I’m still surpised I haven’t seen a longer article, or even a long and involved blog write-up talking about this.

    Also, isn’t it true that most of the MSM out of china is usually bad? Isn’t that just sort of a rule these days? Don’t the ‘serious’ people just comb the sites like Rconversation and zonaeuropa, or occasionally go out on expeditions to the ‘countryside’ or the ‘cityside’ to write ‘hard-hitting’ stories, that kind of ring hollow or ‘off’ to people who aren’t nytimes reporters?

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 2:27 am | Permalink
  51. Sophia wrote:

    I’m not sure if you have seen it yet, but put out a documentary concerning the subject of the Chinese language and rap:

    Saturday, April 11, 2009 at 11:00 am | Permalink
  52. Yi wrote:

    I read all the comments here, finally. I am a rapper in Beijing, and I thought that, contrary to what Bokane says, this article really did a service to Chinese youth by actually putting the spotlight on a scene that had been, up until the point it was published, completely ignored. Of all the articles published by The Times that have questionable reporting–that overexaggerate the state of Chinese censorship and the degree of freedom people have here-it seems strange that O’Kane singled this one article out. On the harder, hot-topic issues regarding China: pollution, detainment of dissidents, and religious intolerance, amongst others-Bokane never ventures to challenge the reporting of western journalists (especially journalists from the Times). What does O’Kane have to say about western journalists’ uncorroborated claims of genocide by the Chinese police against Tibetans during the Tibetan uprising? While there were casualties on both sides, it seems interesting that on a REALLY controversial topic like that, Mr. O’kane remained silent. He doesn’t have his magnifying glass out on any of Joseph Kahn, Edward Wong, or Andrew Jacob’s articles, which establish the basis for the west’s misunderstanding of China and bash China on a weekly basis. Sure, China’s government is really intolerant on certain issues, but if you look at the article that Mr. O’kane singled out, it was probably the most positive of the articles published in western media of late because it actually showed that young Chinese kids are hip! His arguments concerning the examples the writer chose seem totally piecemeal and subjectively thrown together. And he seems to have immense beef with the writer of the article, which I thought was one of the few articles doing a service to China in that it highlighted a real subculture here (how many Times articles do you see that do that? How many English language articles published by the mass media do you see do that, period?)They’re mostly focused on dissidents and farmers in order to give people in the west the impression that China is still living in the cultural revolution. I have to say that after reading the hip hop article in the Times, I feel it is one of the few articles in the past year that broke through the firewall in perception on China in the last two years; so I think it’s strange that it is also the article that B’okane decided to fact check (wrongly, and subjectively). I can’t really see why he would target this article when there are so many other articles that distort the truth on harder issues in China. Maybe Mr. O’kane has dozens of journalist friends and academics who, for some reason, targeted this journalist in order to discredit him. I thought the article was really strong, and did more to bring the reality of China’s youth to western readers than almost anything I had read before. The thrust of O’kane’s argument seems to be that this writer is misrepresenting the state of the music scene by saying that there is very little political rap in China. That’s not true-Andreas, who posted earlier in this conversation, has tons of political rap critical of the government, and the only reason he hasn’t been shut down is because he isn’t Chinese. I think the amount of self-censorship that goes on by Chinese rappers is significant; how many songs they don’t publish because they know they will be targeted if they do publish them. I can’t tell if O’kane is simply an attack dog for other people, or whether he simply enjoys portraying himself as an educated objective academic who, through this post, has actually attacked one of the only decent articles on China I’ve read in the last two years. I suspect he mostly simply enjoys the attention– his attack post has been up for like half a year. Anyway, I couldn’t just help but notice how agenda-driven O’kane’s blog post is. I wonder what the real motivations behind his article were, since his arguments are completely piecemeal and ignore the real facts of the underground hip-hop scene. While I don’t agree with some of the posts accusing him of being a spy or making uncorroborated claims against him, the fact that he has so many journalist friends suggests that he is part of a tertiary network of self proclaimed China experts who might have targeted this one writer (for what reason, God only knows) with the intention of discrediting him. That may sound a little bit conspiracy theory, but if it is true, than B’okane is in fact part of the very forces that misrepresent China he claims to be fighting against. It seems strange that all of his friends who write china blogs simultaneously referenced this one article; a coordinated attack. Journalists and academics sure are damn competitive and cutthroat. I even saw a wall street journal article reference this post. Damn. I think it just goes to show how much of the media coverage on China is controlled and fought over.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 1:13 am | Permalink
  53. Maggie wrote:

    I have to agree that it seems weird that Brendan is asking different people who contributed to this post to write articles “in counter” to this Times article. Maybe he is, in fact, part of a network of spies! CIA spies who have infiltrated all of the west’s top newspapers! And maybe, following this logic, the times journalist who wrote this article refused to join the CIA and so they, the united CIA spies of the world, collaborated to discredit him permanently and for eternity in order that they could maintain tight control over every word western readers read representing and misrepresenting china!!! maybe the writer of this article represented a threat to the CIA and NSA old boy colonial networks of the world!!!

    But WAIT! That wouldn’t make sense–if all the top journalists are spies, than the writer of the hip hop article must be a spy too! AHA!!!

    This article, is proof, then, that with the financial crisis came a critical rift in the CIA brotherhood; this is proof that they have a lack of solidarity!


    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 1:33 am | Permalink
  54. Viola Chang wrote:

    [Help], [Help], [Help] the ORIENTALIST ATTACK DOGS!


    The New generation of Orientalists have arrived!!!

    Long gone are the days of dishonest Western bloggers and reporters who can’t speak the local language!

    This is a NEW BREED! They’re advanced. They’re sophisticated, they can speak putonghua better than yo Chinese Chicken Mama!

    Featuring Brendan O’kane!!! Orientalist extraordinaire! Who flaunts his skills in Chinese to make you believe. . .WHATEVER IT IS HE WANTS!!!

    He can give you evidence in Chinese symbols he knows you can’t read! He’s committed; he loves the poor colonized people of China who are just too ignorant to realize the wisdom of freedom and democracy and the freemarket system!

    The CIA has payed him and his friends to produce an authoritative orientalist blog.

    But here’s the catch!!!

    Chinese people don’t give a fuck what he says! Because they CAN’T READ ENGLISH!!!!!

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 2:10 am | Permalink
  55. richard wrote:

    “Orientalist extraordinaire.” I gotta remember that. Let me know if the CIA pays well, Brendan, and if so, are there any openings?

    On a more somber note – time to update this slumbering giant.

    Monday, May 25, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink
  56. JamesD wrote:

    Thanks for the useful info. It’s so interesting

    Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Permalink
  57. Herbie (HERBZ) wrote:

    Greetings, well I’m the engineer – writer of many wonderous and mystical beats for Yin’ Tsang (never could spell that right) on their first album “serve the people”, the wonderous and mystical beats thing was a joke btw, Chill!

    They never intended the album to be some assault on anything, it was their first time in a studio, well I say studio….. my living room, complete with pimped out zebra pattern sofas and stuff, nobody was punching their hands in the air, the machines were pretty crap as well as a whole host of other problems, it got done though.

    censorship on the first cd

    Here’s the reason why, there was virtually nothing out there in Mandarin regarding hip hop, they had a fiercely tight budget and if their disc got pulled or rejected, it would have left them and myself without the tiny amount of money we were making in other ways.

    Ideas were put forward that might have taken the album to another level but it was self-censored so as to not make any problems. If they’d gone all “angry” at the start, there’d be no shows, no experiences to pass on to others getting into it or on the way up.

    So it might be cool to cut them some slack because at the end of the day, they were there first and did it first, the critics are an afterthought.

    btw, the final track on the cd is the first Mandarin Jungle choon.

    I still write and produce, so if anyone’s got ideas and MONEY, you can email me….

    Peace and thanx to Bokane for bringing up the topic


    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 4:05 am | Permalink
  58. Herbie (HERBZ) wrote:

    Btw, someone wrote that the first political rappers were Public enemy, I’ll vote “the Last Poets” 1972 .

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 4:13 am | Permalink
  59. Ben Ross wrote:

    Yup, just more of the same old lazy US journalists preying upon the public’s reflexive political views. Alleged stories of descent in a society shaped by a Confucian value system never seem to get old, do they? From my experience most young Chinese people are listening to music more along the lines “I love you. I’m loving you. Like a mouse loves rice.” Pretty pugnacious stuff indeed.

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 11:07 pm | Permalink
  60. Tiana wrote:

    Well done Herbie,its something nobody else would take on and the guys did well show wize out of it. Ungreatful cunts lol.

    Monday, September 13, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

6 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] do not walk or stop to collect your bling, and read Brendan O’Kane’s vivisection of the recent NYT article “Now Hip-Hop, Too, Is Made in China.” I saw the subject, read […]

  2. Hip-hop China » The Peking Duck on Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    […] take a look at the article, and then read a blogger tear it apart, syllable by syllable. Quite hilarious. Totally merciless. Baked by Richard @ 3:18 pm, Filed under: […]

  3. […] Brendan O’Kane fra er virkelig fløjet op af stolen, og her dissikerer hanartiklen fra New York Times, der i øvrigt ikke skelner mellem hip-hop (嘻哈) og rap (说唱) og […]

  4. China Journal : Best of the China Blogs: January 30 on Friday, January 30, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    […] Keepin’ it real: A New York Times article on the state of hip-hop in China sets off a fierce debate on one blog — don’t miss the comments — over its popularity and su…. The discussion being about rap, expect some coarse language. (h/t The Peking Duck) […]

  5. Why Isn’t Hip-Hop Popular in China? | ChinaGeeks on Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    […] For an analysis of this article much harsher than my own, check out Bokane. For an analysis much deeper and better than my own, check out this blog (blocked in Mainland […]

  6. East-West Station » Hate mail on Monday, February 2, 2009 at 4:31 am

    […] stories and he recently hooked me up with a funny post over at Brendan O’Kane’s kickass bokane blog a dog dog […]

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