China Wants to Erase Hip-Hop Culture

Chinese rapper Vava, right (via Vava’s Instagram)

Last year, Nielsen Music confirmed a dramatic shift in popular music: hip-hop/R&B had overtaken rock to become the most-consumed genre of music in the United States. The trend extends far beyond the States and it seems like the Chinese government is not too happy about it. Hmmm.

According to Chinese news outlet Sina (as translated by Time), the Chinese government has banned hip-hop culture and tattoos (???) from television. The state’s complete mouthful of a media regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT), has laid down the guidelines: It “specifically requires that programs should not feature actors with tattoos [or depict] hip hop culture, sub-culture (non-mainstream culture) and dispirited culture (decadent culture).”


Since tattoos are far from unique to hip-hop, it appears their latest set of regulations—which also targets actors whose “heart and morality are not aligned with the party,” along with those whose are “tasteless, vulgar, and obscene”—are aimed more at the proliferation of Western culture, or at least how they perceive Western culture, rather than anything specific to hip-hop. But the crackdown has been on even before these new restrictions were announced.

Just before the official ban, popular Chinese rapper GAI was abruptly removed from Singer, a music competition show, and his videos were taken down from the network’s YouTube channel. Another notable MC, Vava, was yanked from the variety show Happy Camp. And PG One was forced to apologize for “lewd lyrics” that the government believed to glorify drug culture and demean women.

Although we currently have a president stateside who resents and openly detests almost every facet of black culture or opposition, there’s little precedent for this sort of widespread censorship in the U.S. It’s a valid reminder that even if you live in one fascist-aspiring hellhole, there’s always somewhere else in the world that can one-up it in groundless nationalism.

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