China’s communist government has a long history of limiting the type of entertainment it allows its citizens to enjoy. Recent years have seen artists like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber banned from performing in the country, but now the censors are taking aim at an entire genre. According to Reuters, hip-hop is officially genre non grata on Chinese airwaves.
The hip-hop scene is a relatively nascent one in China, a country that is always at odds between repressive governmental control and globalization. The cultural was made more mainstream with the success of Rap of China, a reality show that aired last year. Now, that show’s two winners, PG One (Wang Hao) and GAI (Zhou Yan), have both been sanctioned by censors.
The crackdown began when PG One (pictured above) was forced to apologize for “lewd lyrics” in his song “Christmas Eve”, which critics said demeaned women and supported drug use. His songs were subsequently pulled from a number of websites and streaming outlets. The official news outlet of China, Xinhua, said the young rapper “does not deserve the stage” and called his music “low-taste content.”
GAI, meanwhile, was competing on another reality show on Hunan TV called The Singer. He was solidly in third place when he was suddenly dropped from the program with no explanation. Clips of him were also pulled from Hunan TV’s YouTube channel. Another of the network’s shows, Happy Camp, edited out rapper Vava because of her connection to hip-hop culture.
All these moves seem to align with new rules handed down by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT), the top media regulator in China. In addition to reportedly banning actors or artists with tattoos, the new guidelines restrict outlets from providing platforms for content that they say run counter to Communist Party values. Specifically, the rules state:
“Absolutely do not use actors whose heart and morality are not aligned with the party and whose morality is not noble.
Absolutely do not use actors who are tasteless, vulgar and obscene.
Absolutely do not use actors whose ideological level is low and have no class.
Absolutely do not use actors with stains, scandals and problematic moral integrity.”
It’s important to note that rap as a whole is not outlawed in China (yet). So long as you’re state-sponsored, like Tianfu Shibian or CD Rev (the latter of whom released an anti-THAAD video last year), you’re fine. It’s performances like those below, however, that are feeling the clamp down.