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Hip hop in China

Lil Pump rightly rapped for Chinese slur, but much of rap is gangsta and not PC

  • Rap has a very rich and fluid lexicography, not all of which is politically correct
  • The use of rap in China is an awkward fit sometimes, but Chinese rappers are global as well, and deserve more attention
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 December, 2018, 1:00pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 December, 2018, 1:00pm

I refer to the report: “Chinese rappers hit back at Lil Pump’s racial slurs amid backlash” (December 18).

“CD Rev”? A hip-hop group that works with/for the Communist Youth League? That would be like American rappers singing for the GOP Young Conservatives. However, you ignored the “Chinese” American rappers at the other end of the diss. The rapper who rapped the stupid lines and signs is American, and Americans have called him out for it. Might be an interesting idea to look into China Mac, as a person who lived a very particular Asian/Chinese-American experience. His father was in the Flying Dragons, a violent Chinese-American gang heavily active in the ’80s for murders, kidnapping and drug trafficking.

Ironically, Lil Pump seems to have unintentionally performed a kind of old-fashioned racist musical image of Chinese culture. His gesture is certainly racist, or at least based on racist images. However, the image is not only his own. The association with “Asian” or “Chinese” eyes is about the look of a person when they are intoxicated. Rap has a very rich and fluid lexicography. Not all of it is politically correct, that’s for sure.

As for rap from mainland China, I recall hearing about CD Rev. Even these nationalists cannot get official recognition, and anodyne, lame rap has been used by the Communist Party to make jingles about Xi Jinping. But other groups I have heard are truly localising rap culture, the “Jianghu” and all that.

Communist Party embraces hip hop to hook millennials

At the same time, one has to admit the use of rap in China is an awkward fit sometimes, since the groups are clearly emulating some African American groups, which may not be reflective of Chinese views of African Americans, or Africans for that matter.

Asian hip hop: racism, cultural appropriation or harmless fun?

I enjoy listening to rap from China, Taiwan and Malaysia, as well as from the US. I think rap in China deserves much more attention. I also think rap is a truly global form, and Chinese rappers are global, too.

It should be said that although rap is not censored as strongly in the US, it still has largely negative associations for the “authorities”, even if Kendrick Lamar received the Pulitzer. In a way, rap as a form of pop culture is very much in the vanguard globally. Nevertheless, even with the images of gangsters (and Jianghu), as China Mac notes, rap is entertainment.

Sean Macdonald, Amherst, NY