August 24, 2008

DòngTīng Song of the Week



This week’s song comes from Shenzhen rappers JR Fog and Fredii. JR Fog received the 2008 Chinese Hip Hop Award for “Rapper with the Most Potential”. At only 18 years old, his production and lyrical skills have gained the respect of seasoned rappers and the attention of record labels. JR has already licensed music for commercials and video games and is working with a domestic label on his first EP. He is poised to make a big contribution to Chinese rap. Performed with fellow Shenzhen rapper Fredii, “India Oil” is a humorous song about a much-favored topic in rap, getting high.

本周的歌曲来自深圳的说唱家JR Fog和Fredii。JR Fog得了2008中国
Hip Hop颁奖的“最有潜力的说唱家”的奖品。他今年18岁,但已经
他很有可能会对中国Hip Hop作出很大的贡献。这首歌《印度神油》

~ Angela

August 23, 2008

A closer look at Dumdue

Kidgod and Along of Guangzhou's Dumdue

We’ve mentioned Dumdue before in past posts, we’ve featured their music in our Song’s of the week section, and we’ve used a number of their quotes in our short videos. So while this short video might not be the “first look” you’ve gotten at the Guangzhou based rap group, it’s a chance to get a “closer look.”

Dumdue, made up of A-Long (rapper/producer), Kidgod (rapper), and Edi (DJ), has been making music together since 2003. They make all of their own beats and rap exclusively in Cantonese. Dumdue has also started their own music collective called Chee Productions, which includes a few other local Guangzhou Hip Hop artists, such as DJ Fatkit, DJ DJam and Hip Hop dancer, Ji An. Click here to go to Dumdue’s Myspace page.

With one of the most unique sounds in Chinese Hip Hop today, Dumdue commands considerable recognition and respect within the underground Hip Hop community. They are often featured in local Guangzhou Art and Style magazines as well as national Chinese Hip Hop websites like However without the support of being signed to a major record label Dumdue remains virtually unknown to the majority of Chinese youth.

Which is a shame, because they are really good.

See for yourself


August 17, 2008

Finding Chinese Hip Hop Albums

We know that some of your are looking for Chinese Hip Hop albums to purchase, download and/or review. And unfortunately there is no simple way for you to get an entire album.  Amazon and iTunes haven't hit up the Chinese Hip Hop market (yet). 

So our top recommendations are to:

1. See what's available on MySpace. We have linked to MySpace pages of several artists.
2. Check out the music (音乐流) and artists (艺人 A-Z) sections of
3. Email us at and we can help you out. 

August 16, 2008

Skateboarding and Hip Hop

To quote Mike Wind, a rapper of Kunming’s Co Op Sol who grew up in Hong Kong and was part the local skate culture, “I wouldn’t say the connection between skateboarding and Hip Hop is the defining connection. Because there’s all different kinds of stuff going on.” The musical tastes of skaters often vary, from Metal, to Rock, to Punk, to Hip Hop, and sometimes this can cause music-based splits in their social scene. What Hip Hop and Skate culture do have in common is that they both tend to fall under the more general term of “Street Culture,” or in Mandarin, jietou wenhua. Both skate culture and Hip Hop culture continue to grow in popularity among Chinese youth, but they have had to struggle to carve out a niche for themselves in the Chinese market. These struggles are mostly due to negative stigmas that characterize skateboarding, Hip Hop and other elements of Street Culture (such as Street Ball and BMX biking), as “rebellious,” “crude,” “meaningless,” and something that “young trouble-makers” engage in. Click here to read Jonathan Chow’s article on the development of skateboarding in China.

In our interviews, we heard a number of today’s Chinese Hip Hop artists say that they first came into contact with Hip Hop through skateboarding. And in certain cities like Beijing, skateboarders have been crucial to the growth of local Hip Hop culture. The founders of Beijing’s Society Skateboard company, Raph Cooper and Li Qiu, have each played their respective roles in Beijing’s Hip Hop scene. Raph, who doubles as a rapper, co-organizes Beijing’s monthly Section 6, the city’s biggest Hip Hop party that features artist’s performances, open mics, and freestyle battles. Li Qiu is a renowned graffiti artist, and he has used his designs to develop the Society Skateboards Skate/Hip Hop-style clothing brand. Skate fashion and Hip Hop fashion tend to overlap, and in addition to selling skate gear and clothing, many Chinese skate shops will also sell CDs of local artists. While in the US, Hip Hop songs that celebrate skate culture, like Lupe Fiasco’s “Kick, push” and The Pack’s “Vans,” have solidified the link between Hip Hop and skateboarding in mainstream music, in China, collaborations like those between Guangzhou rap group Dumdue and Raph and Dan of Society Skateboards have solidified the link in underground Chinese Hip Hop.

Check out what some of China’s Hip Hop artists had to say about the connection between skateboarding and Hip Hop.


August 13, 2008

DòngTīng Song of the Week

MC Young Kin

This week’s song comes from Young Kin, of Beijing’s Yin Tsang, featuring Big Dog, formerly of Wuhan’s No Fear Family. In “为什么,” or weishenme, which is Mandarin for “Why,” Young Kin and Big Dog question many of the restrictions and inequalities they find in modern Chinese society. “Why” is a politically charged song that came out right before the beginning of the Beijing Olympics. It touches upon issues that range from freedom of expression, to the One-Child policy, to the right to congregate, to ethnic inequalities. With unique flows and strong lyricism, Young Kin and Big Dog have succeeded in creating a provocative anthem for Chinese youth.

本周的歌来自北京隐藏的Young Kin,feat. 来自武汉No Fear Family前员的大狗.
在“为什么,” Young Kin和Big Dog 说到现代中国社会普遍的限制和不平等的现象.
北京奥运开摸之前发布了,“为什么,” 这个充满政治色彩的一首歌发布了; 它涉及的问题
包括从言论自由到独生子女政策,从集合权利到种族不平等现象. 利用独特的flows和
强烈的歌词,Young Kin和Big Dog成功地证明“为什么”谈到的内容.

Click here to read what Young Kin has to say about his song "Why."

"Why" by Young Kin featuring Big Dog


New Jersey State of Mind

The celebrity of rappers Notorious BIG, Diddy, Jay-Z and 50 Cent have led many to equate “East Coast” rap with New York City. However, there are Hip Hop legends throughout the Northeast and New Jersey is home to more than a few. The Sugar Hill Gang, The Fugees, Queen Latifah, Naughty By Nature, Poor Righteous Teachers, Redman and Lords of the Underground are just some of New Jersey’s rap superstars.

Here in China, New Jersey is pretty much only known for basketball. 90% of the time when I tell someone I am from New Jersey, they respond with, “Yes I know, the New Jersey Nets. Did you know that Yi Jianlian plays for them now?” Got it, thanks. Chinese rappers don’t usually mention New Jersey rappers among their major inspirations. Young Chinese rappers point to MCs such as Eminem, 50 Cent and Jay Z and older rappers to MCs such as Public Enemy, MC Hammer and Dr. Dre.

But even though Hip Hop fans (in the U.S. and China) often know the hometowns of their favorite individual artists, many do not know the history of Hip Hop in a specific city or region (i.e. Houston or the Bay Area).

All in all, this Jersey Girl was very surprised to hear Shanghai MC BlaKK Bubble praise the accomplishments of New Jersey rappers and express his wish that the Shanghai Hip Hop community will take after New Jersey. I feel you BlaKK Bubble and as Lauryn would say, “You have to respect Jersey!”

~ Angela

August 11, 2008


One Love, One Heart,
Let's get together and feel all right,
As it was in the beginning,
So shall it be in the end,
Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right . . .
- Bob Marley

In the video, “What is Hip Hop?”, many Chinese artists said the power of Hip Hop lies in its ability to bring people together. People, who perhaps may not otherwise have reason or opportunity to, can bond over the mutual enjoyment of music, dance and art. For Hip Hop artists, the connection can be even deeper as they also have the shared experience of living a Hip Hop lifestyle in Chinese society. As they face similar struggles and have the same goal - to develop Hip Hop culture - many artists have called for the Hip Hop community to unite. Some have organized local and national UNITY or Da Tuanjie (大团结) parties and performances, while others have established online networks and artistic collectives. While these community-building activities have been successful, there is much criticism of both the UNITY parties and the Da Tuanjie movement. Both are undermined by conflict, in Hip Hop jargon - beef. How the Hip Hop community responds to these concurrent issues will be telling for the future growth of Chinese Hip Hop. Furthermore, the influence of unity and discord are especially relevant to China today.

Unity in Chinese Hip Hop

UNITY or Da Tuanjie parties began in the city of Guangzhou in 2007. They were first organized by Guangzhou crew Dumdue and, later by Hiphop.CN. The March UNITY party was held in Guangzhou and included performances from Beijing’s In3 and Kunming’s Co Op Sol. In May, the party was held in Beijing and included performances from Beijing’s Long Jing (龙井) and Xi An’s Luan Zhan Men (乱战门). Both events were highly attended by Hip Hop fans and artists, and they accomplished their objective of both throwing a great party and also promoting the unification of the Hip Hop community.

On the local level, efforts towards unification include organizing parties, performances and events, collaborating on songs, and forming online communities. In Kunming, Hip Hop artists are just starting to organize da tuanjie events with BBoy Crew KGS, BGirl crew KLT, rappers Co Op Sol and Green Clan, and DJ DSK all performing together. In Guangzhou, several rap crews worked together to produce a Guangzhou anthem titled “Guangzhou Rules”. In Xinjiang, artists share their work and Hip Hop news on the community website These projects all serve to create and strengthen relationships between artists, to encourage them to pursue their artistic path, and to gain recognition of their existence and accomplishments.

On the national level, besides Da Tuanjie parties, artists also use the Internet as a forum to communicate and collaborate on projects. Hiphop.CN is the perfect example, a website and a company dedicated to building the national Chinese Hip Hop community. Hiphop.CN is often also a co-organizer of Da Tuanjie events. Many artists also create nation-wide informal networks or lianmeng (联盟), similar to the Native Tongues Posse or the Quannum Collective. Such networks provide support and strengthen individuals through association with other crews in China.

The vast majority of Hip Hop artists agree that, whether on the local or national level, Hip Hop artists in China should unify. Although, they vastly differ on the best method – focusing on just your city, creating a mainstream Hip Hop star and capitalizing on their popularity, establishing nationwide underground networks, etc. The question then becomes not whether or not unification is something that should happen, but whether or not it can happen.


Ever since the Tupac and Notorious BIG murders, the subject of "beef" has been popular in Hip Hop journalism and academic writing. "Beef" is a grudge between two individuals or a crew of Hip Hop artists. "Beef" is often settled through competition. Rappers "beef" by making dis tracks, criticizing their opponents lack of skills and championing their own talent. Bboys break against their rivals and writers write over their opponents tags. Audiences often decided who made the better track, busted the better move, or threw up the better tag, and that should settle the beef.  However, today, "beef" is too often settled by violence. Many critique how beef is exploited by the industry and artists and hyped by the media to the benefit of sales and the detriment of communities and individuals. Though this is a very important critique, it does not relieve the necessity to talk about conflict, competition and violence in Hip Hop. Hip Hop is as competitive as it is creative and promotes as much aggression as love. 

As Shanghai rapper BlaKK Bubble said, “Many of Hip Hop’s origins are related to beef”, conflict and/or competition. Hip Hoppers often battle in order to get status and improve their skills. While battling can substitute for other acts of aggression, battles can also instigate and perpetuate violence. Xi'An rapper and producer Mr. V makes the point that the reason is that, today, people do not differentiate between competition and beef, the former being a positive way to showcase your talent and the latter being a personal vendetta. But besides Hip Hop’s inherent competitiveness, longevity in any industry requires defending yourself challengers and creating continuous appeal. While the lack of a Hip Hop market in China means that being the “best” won’t bring material gains, maintaining status still matters for pride and underground celebrity.

Conflicts in Chinese Hip Hop arise from myriad sources – personal, artistic and social. Some artists find it impossible to come together because they simply don’t like one another. Others point to artistic differences, such as artists whose musical style is more pop as opposed to more underground or experimental. Conflicts also arise from people’s (lack of) understanding of Hip Hop, which often, but not always is the result of age differences. Still other conflicts come from different lifestyles and an individual’s reason for becoming a Hip Hop artist. For those who do Hip Hop professionally or live a Hip Hop lifestyle, it may be difficult to unify with those who just do Hip Hop for fun as a hobby. Social restrictions also undermine Hip Hop unity.

How do you really unify all of Chinese Hip Hop? Problems include language, culture, distance, and numbers. While Mandarin is the common language, China has numerous dialects (See the video on Language). Hip Hop artists would perhaps first have to support a common language to really unite. Language inevitably involves culture and the mutual biases and prejudices between the North and the South, the East and the West, and Han Chinese and ethnic minorities. One Hip Hop critic recently told me that an artist from the North could never really be accepted in the South and vice versa. How can Hip Hop artists transcend such deeply embedded cultural biases?

Two very practical obstacles are distance and numbers. China is a huge country and many Hip Hop artists don’t have the means to travel great distances for competitions, shows, or classes. While globalization is shrinking the world through tele-connections, face-to-face communication is still the most powerful. Lastly, the number of Hip Hop artists is always shifting and figuring out how to reach out to them all or who should represent each community is a daunting task. Considering all of the issues, what are the potential costs of beef and a lack of unity?

Consequences of Conflict

In talking with Hip Hop artists about beef, there was a widespread agreement that the time has not yet arrived for artists to beef. Considering that there is not Hip Hop market and beefing cannot bolster sales or media exposure, personal and artistic conflicts can only serve to divide Hip Hop artists and spread negativity at a time when Chinese Hip Hop is most vulnerable. Beef has undoubtedly hindered Hip Hop’s development, as people have been opposed to collaboration. It has also contributed to Hip Hop’s negative image, complicating acceptance by a larger audience.

However, conflict can also spur progress and artists can use beefs to grow personally and artistically, hopefully outweighing the negative consequences of their conflicts. The lack of beef also does not imply a dedication to unity, and an artist can be seriously embattled and simultaneously dedicated to developing the Hip Hop community on some level. The consequences of conflict are real and many but they are perhaps unavoidable and certainly will not stop the growth of Hip Hop in China. (See what Chinese Hip Hop artists have to say about UNITY and BEEF.) The concepts of unity and internal conflict are much bigger than Hip Hop and are especially salient in China today.

The Call for Unity in China

2008 has been a momentous year for China and responses to various events have frequently been calls for solidarity and appeals to national pride and civic responsibility. Following the Tibetan protests in March, Chinese people around the world banned together in support of a unified China and continued Chinese authority over Tibet. This sentiment spilled over into the Olympic torch protests and counter-protests. Many Chinese people saw the torch protests in the context of historical grievances with the West for (neo)colonial interference in China’s domestic affairs. Again, many Chinese people rallied against this affront. In the aftermath of the earthquake in Sichuan Province in May, there was an outpouring of sympathy and activism. Benefits and fundraising events frequently called on the civic responsibility of Chinese people to help one another (even though philanthropy is relatively new to China). The 24-hour coverage on local and national television of difficult rescues, emotional reunions, vigils, fundraisers, and dedications reinforced and helped sustain the unity of the people behind the relief effort. And, of course, there are the Olympic Games, already underway in the capital. The Olympics have required a tremendous unification effort, with the Chinese government and Olympic Committee rallying its citizens and for the past seven years. Many see the Games as China’s time to present itself to the world and the people have been asked to fully support every measure to ensure the success of the Olympics. Many Chinese people feel a deep sense of pride in hosting the Olympic Games and feel that it is a recognition of China’s achievements and a substantiation of China’s power. In response to all of these events, while the call has been for unity, the response has been anything but unanimous.

Unharmonious Society

Anatol Lievin wrote that appeals to national solidarity are a part of “the classic modern strategy of and endangered right-wing oligarchy, which is to divert mass discontent into nationalism” (London Review of Books, 3 October 2002). The fervor surrounding the Tibetan protests, the Sichuan Earthquake and the Olympic Games has often overshadowed serious grievances and the varying reactions to all of the events. Every call for unity has been undercut with dissension and opposition. The Tibet protests saw Chinese people on both sides of the picket lines and many Chinese question, not only the West, but China’s colonial ambitions. The earthquake response made many disillusioned with the corruption, graft, and lumbering bureaucracy that undermine all disaster relief efforts. People were also outraged by forced donations. Many companies and schools required people to donate money, often specifying amounts, and ridiculing those who failed to donate as much as others. The sanctioned oppression for the Olympic Games has been well documented by human rights groups, NGOs and the media. From expelling migrants from the city to forcing business to close for weeks without compensation, from the tens of millions of dollars outside cities have sent to Beijing for the Games for which they will have no return to public notices to immediately report Uighurs and Tibetans to the local police (literally on sight), the Olympic Games have effectively given officials carte blanche to discriminate against marginalized groups, devastate communities and businesses, and of course stifle criticism and protest. Many Beijing residents now wish the Olympics would be over already so their lives can get back to normal.

The hope for all of China is that, as in the Hip Hop community, hopefully these conflicts will foster growth. The response to the Sichuan Earthquake especially showed that if galvanized, Chinese citizens will take bold action to improve their community. With the number of NGOs increasing and community activism becoming more popular, perhaps community leaders can capitalize on this sentiment, unifying the Chinese people to make positive change.

~ Angela

August 6, 2008

2008 OTS Hip Hop Dance Competition

Wuhan's Special King Crew - Winners of Best Team Routine at Shanghai's OTS

This past weekend we attended the three-day On The Stage (OTS) Hip Hop dance Competition at Dino Beach in Shanghai. OTS was organized by Stanly Wong, the founder and director of Shanghai’s Dragon Dance Studio. Stanly has been dancing for almost twenty years and has been very influential not only in the development of Hip Hop dance, but in the development of Chinese Hip Hop culture in general. To quote Shanghai rapper Tang King of Red Star: “Stanly, he is REAL Hip Hop.” And with students traveling all the way from Xinjiang to study with him (such as Purcat, the leader of Urumqi’s DSP Crew and Ha Shan, the leader of Karamai’s Dancekid Crew), praise for Stanly can still be heard far away from Shanghai.

Which means…when Stanly Wong holds a Hip Hop Dance Competition, Chinese Hip Hop dancers show up. Dancers and dance crews traveled from all over China to compete in OTS’s three main events:

Individual Battle, (click here for Individual Battle video)
Team Battle, (click here for Team Battle video)
and Team Routine Competition. (click here for Team Routine video)

The individual battles were divided into four categories, New Style, Funk Style, Girl’s Freestyle and Breaking, with each winner receiving a prize of 10,000 RMB (approx. $1,500 USD).

New Style: Cheng Jie of Hangzhou
Funk Style: Huang Jingxing of Beijing
Girl’s Freestyle: Zhao Qian of Shanghai
Breaking: Wu Yaofeng of Shanghai

Guangzhou’s Speed Crew won the Team Battle Competition, and Wuhan’s Special King Crew won for best Team Routine; each team received a prize of 15,000 RMB, approx. $2,250.

In addition to bringing out Chinese Hip Hop dancers from all over the country, the OTS Competition was judged by a panel of premier International Hip Hop artists, including Ken Swift of the USA’s Rock Steady Crew, break-dancers O-Hashi and ISOPP of Japan, and New Style dancers Meech and Clara of France.

Check out the highlights from the 2008 OTS Hip Hop Dance Competition by clicking the links above.


August 5, 2008

DòngTīng Song of the Week

This week’s song is a collaboration between two groups from the city of Urumqi in Xinjiang Province – Free Soul and Soul Clap. It is serendipitous that both of their names have the word “soul”, as soulful is exactly how I would describe this song.

Free Soul is an all-female group that formed a little over one year ago. They sing and rap in English, Uyghur and Mandarin. Their voices are already so strong (the influence of their idol Christina Aguilera can certainly be heard) that people doubt they sing their own songs!

Soul Clap is an all-male group that is also multilingual, rapping in English, Mandarin, Uyghur and Russian. Their self-produced tracks mirror their linguistic diversity ranging from melodic love songs to hardcore rap songs. “Lil Luv” is a perfect example of the former and talks about . . . well . . . young love.

本周的歌曲来自两个乌鲁木齐的团体-Free Soul和Soul Clap。真巧他们俩的名字都含有“soul”这个字。我觉得他们的音乐很有灵魂。Free Soul,一个女生团体,是大概一年前组合的。她们用英文,维语和普通话唱歌。她们的声音已经那么强,有时听众怀疑她们是真的在唱歌。(难怪其中一个影响是Christina Aguilera。)Soul Clap,一个男生团体也用好多语言唱歌,包括英文,普通话,维语和俄语。他们是自己作曲,风格也很丰富。他们有情歌,比较硬核的歌,等等。“Lil Luv”好代表他们的情歌。

~ Angela