The Great Helmsman goes hip hop

As China becomes ever more capitalistic and obsessed with “hip Western culture,” how can the CCP keep today’s young people interested in stodgy old Mao? Easy! Turn him into a rapper:

In a desperate appeal to China’s fashionable youth, the Chinese Communist Party has approved the repackaging of Mao Tse-tung as a rap artist.

Mao’s favourite exhortation – the Two Musts – is to be set to music and released alongside pop versions of all the Great Helmsman’s old slogans, such as The East is Red and Serve the People.

The rap album to honour the 110th anniversary of Mao’s birth next month follows another record, A Red Sun, released to mark his centenary.

The Beijing Times said yesterday: “Ten years ago, the album A Red Sun brought a crimson tide of songs rushing through our music industry. This year, the China Record Company has finished the production of the powerfully red Mao Tse-tung and Us.”

With Mao’s 100th birthday fast approaching, the CCP is desperate to do whatever it can to rekindle enthusiasm for the Great Helmsman, now regarded by most young people, thank God, as utterly irrelevant.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 44 Comments

i think you foreigners misunderstand it…hehe:)so funny, naive

November 29, 2003 @ 12:27 am | Comment

what is there to misunderstand?
who is funny and naive, the foreigners or the makers of the song?

November 29, 2003 @ 12:59 am | Comment

This is too funny for words. PLEASE someone get an MP3 on the network.

November 29, 2003 @ 4:45 am | Comment

Hmm I’m just waiting for pics of Mao wearing some bling-bling.. :)

November 29, 2003 @ 6:22 am | Comment

Richard:

Off topic again, I’ve sent you several e-mails but, due to the pile of crap in a case Dell sold me — BASTARDS — I don’t think you’ve received them.

If not, I’ll mail you again on Monday from the office.

November 29, 2003 @ 9:58 am | Comment

Conrad, never got a single email. Weird, that you can surf but not send email….

November 29, 2003 @ 10:24 am | Comment

Two commenters (though I’ll bet my life savings it’s one commenter) wrote along the lines of “i think you foreigners misunderstand it…hehe:)so funny, naive.”

Why don’t you tell us where the naivite is? Seriously, I’d really appreciate it if you could point out where/how the article misunderstands what’s behind presenting Mao’s writings in rap-style.

November 29, 2003 @ 10:32 am | Comment

I saw this link on Fark yesterday. I think the funniest comment was, “Yao! MTV Raps!” and they attached a picture of Yao Ming.

November 29, 2003 @ 11:02 am | Comment

i was just trying to say it was the makers of the song who are naive not the ‘foreigners’ who wrote the artice.
Then again maybe the makers judged their audience right – do the chinese kids dig government sponsored rap?

November 29, 2003 @ 10:07 pm | Comment

Thanks for the clarification — I totally misunderstood you. Typical.

November 29, 2003 @ 10:09 pm | Comment

Factory: all bling-bling must be collectively owned.

(‘Bling-bling’ is one of these words, like ‘mojo’ – and, ironically, ‘propaganda’ – that there’s no good translation for, at least as far as I know.)

November 29, 2003 @ 10:51 pm | Comment

I’ll bet that Chairman Mao’s rap will be at least as cool as Dennis Kucinich’s.

December 1, 2003 @ 5:10 pm | Comment

Do Chinese kids dig government sponsored rap?

I’ve been working with Chinese youth who love hip-hop for four years now. Just recorded a song with a rapper for Suzho City. The song was being redone for a pro-Chinese anti-Japanese propoganda website, that may have links to government resources. The song spent three weeks at the top of internet charts!

Can anyone send me the mp3 of the Mao song? Is it an album or one song? Who produced it?

Great idea! Can I do a remix!

December 3, 2003 @ 4:47 pm | Comment

I heard a song the other day on Beijing Radio by a Beijing band called “Live in fear”> it was easily as good as the American stuff. Does anyone have any information on them or where i can get the songs?> the announcer said the producer is English and called Herby > the track had female rappers in Chinese.

February 28, 2004 @ 5:34 am | Comment

The praises of Chairman Mao have been sung in Peking Opera style, classical, Chinese folk, early 90s Kung Fu movie soundtrack style, Buddhist chants…why not rap? If Ayone gets the Mao song TELL ME! I have been searching all over for it. LONG LIVE CHAIRMAN MAO!
ëÖ÷ϯÍòË꣬ ÍòÍòË꣡

March 4, 2004 @ 10:36 pm | Comment

Mao rap? how about the Stalin shuffle or the Hitler hoedown, Pol pot hip hop or any number of funky tunes by mass murderers

March 14, 2004 @ 3:13 pm | Comment

I was listening to Roni Size today and the track called “yellow road” on the yinsang cd is a complete rip-off of “Late morning” by Roni Size featuring DJ Die. It would be really good if yinsang stopped telling everybody that they made their own music because they are a bunch of liars that steal music from British cd’s and obviously their producer thinks they are too.

RONI SIZE featuring DJ DIE “late morning”

March 18, 2004 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

forget them Yin Ts’ang have been fooling everybody – that obviously is the hidden message they be telling the press about cos they really didnt make anything themselves

March 21, 2004 @ 8:32 pm | Comment

What is wrong with this band? they seem to be shouting about their achievements all over the web and magazines while all the time pretending that they “write and produce all their own music”. Obviously someone is trying to hide something (as their name suggests).

March 23, 2004 @ 5:01 pm | Comment

I just saw Yin Ts’ang on MTV and they shouted out their producer “Herbie”, they said he made half of the songs on the album. Sounds like some ill vibes between the producer and the band… Didn’t know China had player haters too???

April 8, 2004 @ 1:17 am | Comment

I heard that… Probably mad that white kids are making money in China as rappers, at least someone is trying to do it. I saw Sbazzo rapping in Chinese at the Lyricist Lounge and he was killing it!! regardless I got respect….

April 8, 2004 @ 1:21 am | Comment

y’all bitchin n SH++ but da Roni Size thing is slack

April 12, 2004 @ 4:51 am | Comment

I was in Taipei last week and damn those guys were hot. Dog G wassup? maybe these fools in beijing should come over to Shibuya (BOOOOYAAAH) in Tokyo for a right azz wuppin’

Bought their CD, the rhymes were lame! I thought the scratching was going to go “whigger whigger whigger”.

April 12, 2004 @ 7:18 am | Comment

Oooh yaaa, ya might notice that Muggs and Charlie posted 3 minutes apart on the same day. Your management not have a promotions dept or what?

April 12, 2004 @ 7:22 am | Comment

I haven’t heard good hip hop for 5+ years, Chinese or otherwise. If you doubt my post then holla…?

April 13, 2004 @ 8:57 am | Comment

better yet, post what you got!!

April 13, 2004 @ 9:00 am | Comment

I haven’t heard good hip hop for 5+ years,
I don’t know what to do, I’m droppin tears
Chinese or otherwise, it’s all the same
But eminem is the only one not lame.
If you doubt my post then holla.
If not I’ll grab you by the collar.

Better yet, post what you got,
But make sure it’s your own cos yo on the spot
Don’t diss or dissmiss other people out there
We know you sleep in superman underwear.

haaaaa haaaaaaaa !

April 15, 2004 @ 6:58 am | Comment

I am a big drum and bass fan but would really like to know why Roni Size has had his work stolen ?

April 17, 2004 @ 1:52 am | Comment

me 2 what is this taking from Roni business ?

May 15, 2004 @ 12:52 am | Comment

I think that if these Americans feel so strongly about Chinese Hip Hop then they should put their money where their mouth is and stand up for Asians in the US. From the threads I have read on the internet, they rap safe, play safe while real Chinese rappers promote Asian Hip Hop and dont have a bad attitude.

http://www.blender.com/articles/article_712.html

June 16, 2004 @ 4:46 am | Comment

jeez there’s nothing worse than Americans coming to Beijing and acting all pretentious about their skillz as rappers. Try rapping about something that is adult and relevant first instead of behaving like pre-schoolers YOU SUCK !

July 11, 2004 @ 9:34 pm | Comment

They can only be described as “The original gangsta laowais”. patttttheeeeeettttticccc

July 12, 2004 @ 2:28 am | Comment

Yo why’s beijing full of fake ass folks? Be real mofuckas. da rap sux

July 20, 2004 @ 4:51 am | Comment

Jus wonderin’, sbazzo or spazzo is slang for “spastic” or physically disabled people. Considering a more mature name might be a good idea because it isn’t funny

July 28, 2004 @ 5:11 am | Comment

me thinks that the rappers talked about above soundz like wack n peeps that thinx cussin on the mic is fresh dont belong in the Chinese scene. Playa haters are right cos ghetto fabulous isnt for Chinese kids. Rappers talk about relevant issues and make a statement, not just shoutin about how def they are. Chinese rap sux egz

September 9, 2004 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

Back in the day there were djs which were only getting paid chump-change, and now we have

the producer who is getting paid millions for one track, but these days you get what you pay

for. Like paying for a hit record. Let’s take rap artist Stoski.. You get 50cent to write a

song, and lil jon as the producer, and you do the ultimate to confuse the bootleggers and

add Britney Spears to the album, but hide the tracks, and there you have it. A platinum

album. Even though “Stoski” One Man Gang album is not in stores yet. You can get a

copy of it at
http://www.towerrecords.com/product.aspx?pfid=2863958. The album was being marketed and sold

in Japan, and should hit the streets sometime near December 2004.. All I can say is more

power to the labels. They are having a good time mixing the old with the new, and bring us

the best music in the world.. HIP HOP DON’T STOP

September 17, 2004 @ 7:19 pm | Comment

QUOTE:

MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio — A Maple Heights person was found dead Monday morning and police are looking for Dozier for questioning,Police responded to reports of a person down at the Thomas Street home. They arrived to find A person, 49, dead of an apparent gunshot wound.

The body was transported to the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s office for an autopsy. The Maple Heights police are trying to locate Dozier, for questioning.

Dozier is a 51-year-old black man, about 6 feet tall, 230 pounds, with black hair and brown
eyes.He may be driving a 1992 red Cadillac Deville, with Ohio registration. Police said to consider Dozier as armed and extremely dangerous.Police say not to approach Dozier if seen, but to contact the Maple Heights Police Department…Newsnet5….

The suspects son (stoski) has a Hardcore hip hop cd on sale… Could DNA be the factor for
the gangster lyrics… Is this a common case of “like father like son?”
We will leave it up to you “THE FANS” to decide..

UNQUOTE

They rap about cookies in Beijing

September 22, 2004 @ 12:33 am | Comment

This just about sums up Chinese rappers and their scene.

Chinese take the ‘gangsta’ out of rap

Los Angeles Times
November 13, 2004

BEIJING — He’s a high-school dropout who wears a bandana pulled tight across his skull. His “hutong,” or ‘hood, is one of the city’s poorest precincts, where visitors dodge vegetable vendors on bikes and residents share public squat toilets.

But when Wang “MC Webber” Bo opens his mouth to rap, what comes out from one of China’s hottest young artists would make an original “gangsta” cry.

“In Beijing, walk along Chang’An Avenue. In Beijing, there are many exotic, beautiful women. In Beijing, you can burn incense at the Lama Temple. In Beijing . . . ”

China, accomplishing what millions of disapproving American parents could not, has tamed hip-hop music.

Instead of often obscene and violent inner-city tales, Wang and other leading rappers here are taking to the stage with lyrics that glorify national pride, celebrate tourist attractions and preach against the dangers of adolescent impulsiveness.

One group is so proud of its songs that it has affixed a sticker to its debut album asking fans to share it with their parents. State-controlled television features public service announcements in rap about caring for the environment and respecting elders.

“In America, you can get a gun license and you can purchase guns and kill people,” said Shanghai rapper Blakk Bubble, who cut his teeth on the likes of Naughty by Nature. “But in China, such things would not happen.”

Rap was born on the sidewalks of New York in the 1970s as a melding of braggadocio and beat-driven music. It found a home on the blocks where incomes were limited — all that was needed to go pro was a microphone and a turntable.

The genre soon became an outlet for the disaffected. During the 1980s, bands such as Public Enemy and N.W.A. trained their angry cadences on police brutality and the establishment.

By the 1990s, the street-crime imagery and sexually explicit lyrics of “gangsta” rap had hit pay dirt in the U.S. market

But Chinese rap has about as much bite as a tiger with false teeth.

Before appearing in concert or releasing a record, Chinese artists must submit their lyrics for approval by the Ministry of Culture, which vetoes anything deemed too obscene or politically unacceptable. Enforcement has been inconsistent, and the more “radical” elements of Chinese rap still find their way onto the Internet. But the policing of tunes has forced commercial groups and their record companies to give rap a certain wholesomeness.

Compliance makes for good business strategy, said Li Hongjie, who runs the Dragon Tongue record label. Li said the rock genre in China was too political for its own good. As a result, the government limited the number of live concerts and “kept it from developing.”

Now rap artists and their managers are trying not to repeat the mistake.

“If you want to spread music, you have to think about the government,” Li said.

With three national freestyle rap contest titles and a debut album, Wang’s story is about as ghetto as China gets. After watching an MC Hammer video when he was 15, Wang quit school and set out to make it big as a rapper.

Like Eminem’s character in the hit movie “8 Mile,” Wang practiced his flows for hours each day in his bedroom. He painted graffiti on the wall of his family’s compound. He later formed the group Yin Ts’ang.

The group signed a record deal for $6,000, and its debut album features a tongue-in-cheek song about the SARS epidemic, as well as the popular cut “Welcome to Beijing,” which raps a long list of the Chinese capital’s tourist attractions.

But Wang, who recently moved out of his parents’ home to an apartment uptown, complained about the order from his record label to change the lyrics for a song about two men sent to perdition because they had grown rich by cheating people.

The company’s counter-suggestion, according to Wang: “You should do something positive about the economic development in China.”

December 10, 2004 @ 12:48 am | Comment

Heard these “rappers” at a bar near the Uni and they were wack

December 15, 2004 @ 3:56 am | Comment

There’s thousands of chinese rappers out there, you can credit Eminem and Jin for that. Yin tsang sold themselves out by making rap that doesn’t even offend small children. How cool is that?

February 7, 2005 @ 12:23 pm | Comment

Look what I found!
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/9/sbazzoyt

June 18, 2005 @ 5:31 pm | Comment

SBAZZO!!!!!!!!!

June 18, 2005 @ 5:32 pm | Comment

Look here:

http://laborcamp.mcad.edu

There are several songs there set to Mao poems and writings. One also features actual archival recording of Mao speech.

September 5, 2005 @ 9:37 am | Comment

WHAT?

April 21, 2006 @ 8:08 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.