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Many of China’s best-known rappers have decided to voice their politics, but in contrast to rap’s anti-establishment roots, these artists are asserting a distinctly nationalist tone.



The Higher Brothers in concert (Credit: Getty Images)

Why Chinese rappers don’t fight the power

Many of China’s best-known rappers have decided to voice their politics, but in contrast to rap’s anti-establishment roots, these artists are asserting a distinctly nationalist tone.
In 2015, Chinese hip-hop group Higher Brothers learned something the hard way: be very careful when your songs turn political.
The source of controversy was an anti-Uber song. “I don’t write political hip-hop,” spat out by the group’s rapper Melo. “But if any politicians try to shut me up, I’ll cut off their heads and lay them at their corpses’ feet. This time it’s Uber that’s investigated. Next time it will be you.” It led to the song being blocked by Chinese censors, and Melo called in for questioning by the local Public Security Bureau.
Since then, Higher Brothers have garnered widespread success both at home and abroad, partly thanks to landing their first American tour to promote their album Journey To The West. Alongside many of China’s rising crop of hip-hop artists, they’ve stormed onto both the local and global stage – and largely steered clear of politics.
Until now. Over the course of the summer, as the Hong Kong protests have unfolded, and as geopolitical climes have chilled both at home and abroad, many of China’s rappers have decided to voice their politics.

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