Thursday, 19 March 2009

Chinese Hip-Hop Lyrics

Been a bit flat out and have not had time to add to my blog.. but one of my readers contacted me asking to be a 'guest blogger'. I've never had one of those before and there's a first time for everything so why not? :) here is her essay.. enjoy.

An essay on Chinese Hip-Hop by Rachel Wiggett

Discovering Chinese Culture through Chinese Hip Hop

One of the things I love most about travelling is getting the chance to learn about and experience living in a new culture. There are many things that set cultures apart from each other. Whether it’s their food, customs, traditions, or folklore, every culture has things that make them unique and special in their own ways.

I have travelled to many places throughout my lifetime, and one the best ways, I find, to get to know the people in a foreign land is by listening to their music. One of my favorite things to do when I’m visiting somewhere new is to go see live shows. It gives me the chance to mingle with locals, as well as observe and understand their culture through the music they are passionate about.

One of the experiences that stood out most for me though, occurred when I was visiting Beijing in the summer of 2005. I had met some locals my age and they decided to take me out to a hip hop show one night. “Chinese hip hop?” I thought to myself. I had never even heard or knew there was such a thing. Of course, I was very curious to see what it was all about, plus it would be a great way for me to further improve my Chinese after a period of self study through Chinese language learning software.

That show was certainly an eye-opening experience for me. My Chinese friends explained many things behind the history and meaning of Chinese hip hop, which differed greatly from that of the American hip hop I was used to. They told me that when hip hop first became popular in China, most rappers would only rap in English. But over the years, as Chinese hip hop began to evolve and develop its own style, the use of English began to fade and the Chinese language started to infiltrate.

What I found most interesting about Chinese hip hop was how different the meaning and lyrics of the songs were. I had been so accustomed to hearing about: money, violence, guns, and women, in western hip hop, that I was in near shock to find out that these Chinese hip hop artists were talking about their culture, about love, and even about food! Another thing I noticed was how difficult rapping in Chinese really was in terms of rhythm. Chinese is such a unique language, in that word’s meanings can change, simply depending on the pitch you use for each syllable.

Moreover, Chinese hip hop is far from being mainstream, so it doesn’t have the same fortune, fame and glamour stigma attached to it, as it does in American culture. However, I believe this is what makes the artists that do pursue hip hop careers, always stay true to their music.

Ever since I was young, I have always loved music. Rock and Roll, Jazz, Classical, Hip Hop, these are the sounds that have shaped my world, my identity. Learning about Chinese hip hop was a great way for me to learn something new and interesting about Chinese culture. My suggestion to anyone travelling is always learn about the music! It will give your great insight and of course, broaden your musical horizons, which is always a good thing.

I haven't listened to Chinese music much myself so that was very insightful. Thanks so much Rachel!

1 comment:

E1(亿万) said...

Even though I'm not Chinese,, I listen to Chinese music. Visit for English translations of Chinese lyrics!