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Last month, the Chinese state media regulator‚ÄĒthe mouthful that is the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People‚Äôs Republic of China (SAPPRFT)‚ÄĒannounced plans to ban hip-hop culture and tattoos from television. It was an attempt to limit ‚Äútasteless, vulgar, and obscene‚ÄĚ culture from spreading too far, as shows like The Rap of China began to crank out legitimate stars in the country, like rappers PG One and GAI. A new report from Billboard suggests that the show will likely be taken off the air, and discusses the future of Chinese hip-hop with some industry professionals from the country.

The consensus from multiple Chinese music heads seems to be that, well, no one really knows what the ban will look like. At least for now, the ban appears to be a limited¬†gesture geared towards slowing the genre‚Äôs inevitable takeover by implicitly targeting stars that have the widest reach. Marcus Rowland, head of A&R for the Beijing-based music company Outdustry, tells Billboard: ‚ÄúThis is not the Chinese government trying to ‚Äėfully suppress‚Äô hip-hop. The government exerts massive control over TV and it has decided that hip-hop isn‚Äôt acceptable at the highest level of mainstream media.‚ÄĚ

Several professionals doubt its effectiveness, since hip-hop isn‚Äôt new to China‚Äôs mainstream‚ÄĒrapper Jay Chou has been a fixture in the country‚Äôs pop culture for a better part of the millennium. It‚Äôs just a reactionary move to curb less than ‚Äúwholesome‚ÄĚ artists of the reality TV circuit from expanding their platform. Rowland continues:

‚ÄúFrom the government‚Äôs perspective, these rappers were quickly becoming major pop celebrities, and celebrities at that level are supposed to self-censor and be good role models, upholding Chinese/Communist values. This ban is the government saying what most of us always knew: that the government sees hip-hop as part of low-level society and not appropriate for mainstream audiences.‚ÄĚ

But some industry figures are totally cool with the regulation, like Stephen Dowler, the head of independent dance music streaming service DianYinTai. He commends the state for trying to ‚Äúproject positivity while filtering out the negativity,‚ÄĚ and adds, ‚ÄúDuring this process some will get caught up in the filtration, but I don‚Äôt mind the ultimate goal of trying to get more positivity out of hip-hop.‚ÄĚ Sure?


Dowler goes on to predict that the TV ban will be a ‚Äútemporary setback‚ÄĚ that won‚Äôt slow the growth of hip-hop, but will push it to the underground and away from major endorsement deals.‚ÄúBreakdancing isn‚Äôt going anywhere. Graffiti isn‚Äôt going anywhere. Any direct impact on TV and radio will be very likely short-lived,‚ÄĚ he said.

If that’s the case, then you’d think the Chinese government would get creative in finding other ways to limit who it views as problem stars. Hip-hop will never die!