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CCP Rap Propaganda
What happens when 100 rappers write half-baked verses praising the Party? Dragons and Huawei shoutouts!
Curious about China’s 14th Five-Year Plan? There’s a rap for that. How about the Communist Youth League? There’s a rap for that too. Looking for cynical cyphers painting Hong Kong protestors as violent “splitists” manipulated by Nancy Pelosi? There’s a rap for that as well.
In fact, there’s a rap for just about everything the Party wants to educate you about these days. Most of them are slickly produced, carefully managed products featuring cutesy animations (à la this rap about the Four Comprehensives) or martial imagery spliced with shots of the Five-starred Red Flag (à la CD REV’s song “South China Sea”). What is the point of all this Red Rap? In Han Li’s paper “From Red to “Pink”: Propaganda Rap, New Media, and China’s Soft Power Pursuit,” she explained the Party-State’s hip-hop hopes:
“These slickly produced videos on the PRC’s statecraft mechanisms are in some ways educational fast food. For domestic viewers, the videos attempt to reinforce both the Party’s legitimacy by emphasizing economic reform achievements over the past three decades as well as the CCP’s leadership role. For international viewers, these ‘neo-Communist hip-hoperas’ seek to demystify Chinese political and economic models and make China understandable, and, hopefully, likable.”
So it should come as little surprise that a Red Rap for the ages has emerged just in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s founding on June 1. (The Party was actually founded on June 23, but that detail got lost somewhere along the Long March and the mix-up, although acknowledged, has never been corrected.)
“100%” is a 15-minute panegyric to the Party. It is the benighted brainchild of 100 rappers and it sounds the part. Most of the lyrics are anodyne professions of national pride. The chorus screeches: “Sound the trumpet/ China Rising!/ Aiming for victory/ China Rising!/ Our wills united we become a wall/ China Rising!/ Never give up/ China Rising!”
The only explicit mention of the Party’s founding—ostensibly this song’s raison d'être—comes at the six-minute mark via Lingshan Gang’s G-Explosion (灵山村帮-爆G).
The lyrics celebrate 5,000 years of history (6x), being the descendants of the mythical emperors Yan and Huang (7x), yellow skin (5x), and dragons (17x).
Two rappers, oblivious to the news that Alibaba is in the Party’s dog-house, sang its praises. Chinese listeners panned the song, in no small part due to the hypocrisy of some of the rappers involved, as Viola Zhou pointed out in her dispatch for Vice:
”An internet user on microblogging site Weibo pointed out that one of the 100 rappers, HughLion, used an iPhone 11 to post the song online, despite rapping ‘I saved the lyrics I wrote in my Huawei.’
‘You liar, where is your Huawei?’ the Weibo user said.”
Without further ado, “100%” and selected loose translations of a handful of the more egregious lines (original lyrics here):
Xinjiang’s Max马俊, an ethnic Uyghur and once a socially-conscious rapper, kicked off the song with a nod towards China’s borders:
A heart faithful to national territorial integrity
Respectful of my parent’s all-out effort
Insisting on justice, respecting differing voices
My words are like lyrics, promises like gold
依兴驰 said what we’re all thinking, it’s “lit”:
Not afraid to compare ourselves with them
We’re staying out front
We got money in the bank
Our brothers are the most lit
Rushing forth into the world, staying at the peak
From the bottom to the top
We got money in the bank
from the bottom to the top
During his verse, Lil Mon乔帮主 peppered his ode to consumerism with random asides about the military and the motherland:
Excited for the future, head high striding towards being a big SEO’s big brand
Online shopping, travel, convenience, the economy is booming, the military and people are one family sharing bliss
Mutual blessing and reliance
Hanging up a sign of prosperity, wealth, and power
Always maintaining love for the motherland
Protected, rappers on the Yellow River’s banks get treated with love by society.
ei 对未来期待 昂首阔步做大国企大品牌
网购 出行 方便 国业繁荣军民一家我们共同幸福
相互祝福 也 依赖
打上 繁荣富强 招牌
被保护 在黄河两岸 rapper 全都被社会宠爱 对待
Lim杨鲤蔓 scored some points for China’s brands:
The goods that’ll break your confidence don’t just come from Huawei
And to unfair decisions we’ll say “No Way”
Believe it: the sleeping lion has awoken
Our straight spines will never again be broken
道野taoie hit New Era bingo, covering Poverty Alleviation, the BRI, Made In China 2025, and “New Type of Great Power Relations” in eight short lines：
Non-stop construction of mountain roads
Chinese speed goes with Chinese Kung-fu
People’s lives have gotten even richer
A new strategy, remember the 14th FYP
A great power’s strength, a great power’s style
One Belt One Road, I record it with my pen
Made by China with Chinese technology
Let me tell you again, this is Chinese artistry
C.vo洪伟豪 took a more conspiratorial and aggressive posture, accusing unnamed criminals on the opposite bank (Taiwan?) of inciting civil war:
I’ll personally trample your brand
On this ground WE R CHINESE
It’s come round to me to act like ’97 BRUCE LEE
I’ve seen through your opposite-bank conspiracy
Leading a bunch of criminals to start a civil war
Just wait and see how these traitors will be sentenced
The PLA is always ready for war
在这片土地上WE R CHINESE
DP龙猪 went short and sweet:
When the youth are strong, the nation is strong. Our nation will only become more powerful.
Alexander Boyd wrote the piece above.
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China Twitter Tweets of the Week
Provinces are also getting into the rap game!
A full thread. My fav bit:
Really depressing if true…