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I knew I should have worn my Testaverde jersey

shanghaihiphop.jpgI was going to write something here about how I don’t get the whole Chinese hip-hop thing, how it’s a rather unoriginal way for Chinese youth to express their individuality, how it would be nice to see these kids clinging to something more Chinese, something that could grow in China organically, the way rap did in America in the 1970s. I was going to write all that — but then I realized to do so would be stupid and hypocritical. These kids have just as much right to their rap music — maybe more — as little white Danny Washburn did in lily-white Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania in the 1980s. And I listened to rap music. Lots of it. I hooked up my stereo to a TV cable and was able to get Power 99-FM from Philadelphia. So I knew about all the new rap and R&B before even the guys at the record store on Main Street. It made me feel special. I liked being different. Eric B and Rakim were some cool motherf**kers, and because Follow The Leader occupied my Walkman, so was I. What’s more absurd: And honor student in rural Pennsylvania listening to gangsta rap or city kids in China flashing gang signs for photos?

The kids I saw last night at the Shanghai Hiphop II Party at Club Fusion had the style down, alright. In fact, it looked as though the event was cosponsored by Champs Sports and IcedOutGear.com. (Actually, it was cosponsored by ShanghaiNing.com and Sony-BMG, which helped release the Shanghai Rap CD that Friday’s partygoers got for free.) Where can you get cool retro NBA jerseys in huge sizes in Shanghai? Ask this guy. And if you’re a Christian in need of some bling, this guy might be able to point you in the right direction. And what of the music? Hard to say. I couldn’t understand any of the lyrics, save for the odd “baby girl,” “check it,” “murder” or “word up.” Actually, most people in China wouldn’t have been able to understand the lyrics. They were in Shanghainese, which is cool, because the dialect is at risk — fewer and fewer young Shanghainese are learning it. The beats, however, were universal — and, often, very tired and familiar. The only thing original about the music was the language. But give these guys some time. It’s early yet. And hey, Shanghainese rap is already less annoying than Vanilla Ice.

42 of my photots from Friday night on Flickr
All Flickr photos tagged “shanghaihiphop”
My videos from the show on YouTube (Direct links to the three clips: Bamboo Crew, Super Rap Crew, Super Rap Crew slows it down)
Shanghai Rap page on ShanghaiNing.com, with downloadable songs
Shanghai blogger Josh reviews Shanghainese rap songs

More at Shanghaiist.

07.30.2005, 9:01 PM · Audio, Music, Observations, Photos, Video


  1. “grow in China organically”

    If organic produce is grown in manure, maybe some good rap will grow out of this shit.

  2. Hmm, your opinion reminds me of the Cultural Revolution era imprecations to desist from playing Western music including the piano because it’s not really Chinese.

  3. Hmm, did you read the part where I said that opinion was “stupid and hypocritical”?


Shanghai Diaries is a website about Shanghai, China ... and lots of other stuff. Voted Best Mainland China Blog in the 2004 Asia Blog Awards.

Editor: Dan Washburn

Related: Shanghaiist and Mudan Boutique

Dan is a freelance writer living in Shanghai. More about Dan.

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