Bling-bling in Beijing

By Lance Crayon Source:Global Times Published: 2012-8-9 19:15:03

Wang Bo, aka MC Webber, is one of Beijing hip-hop's pioneers. Photo: Courtesy of MC Webber
Wang Bo, aka MC Webber, is one of Beijing hip-hop's pioneers. Photo: Courtesy of MC Webber

Friday and Saturday sees popular club Mix celebrates its 10th anniversary by hosting back-to-back hip-hop concerts featuring some of the latest and legendary rap acts in China. It's been a long road for the club, and been just as challenging for Beijing's fledgling hip-hop scene to thrive.

Being a rapper isn't easy in any country, with China no exception. Local rappers have had to deal with problems such as finding venues to perform, surviving in the digital age of online piracy and expanding their fan base.

Wang Bo, better known as MC Webber, is one of the most famous rappers in China. The Beijing lyricist has witnessed the gradual rise of hip-hop in the capital. "Hip-hop culture has been in Beijing since the 1990s, but there were only two rappers in this city even as late as 1998. The first time I tried rapping was in 1999 at a club located in front of the Workers' Stadium. It was at a party with friends and I thought it was fun," he said.

MC Webber rapidly rose through the ranks, winning the prestigious Iron Mic competition three years in a row from 2001 to 2003. "After that, I started to record CDs with my own songs. In 2005, I was in a group called Yin Cang (literally "Hidden") and we recorded our first hip-hop album. We pre-sold 30,000 copies and later sold 700,000 copies nationwide. Half of the rappers in this country were influenced by that album, inspiring many of them to pursue hip-hop."

Beijing might have been the birthplace of hip-hop in China, but it's gradually grown throughout the country. "Now cities like Wuhan, Shanghai and Xi'an have followed the mold of hip-hop that started in Beijing," MC Webber noted.

Liu Xiaoyu, 22, raps under the name of MC Aka.xy. He discovered hip-hop in 2003 while watching basketball games. He started writing lyrics in 2006 and in 2010 helped form hip-hop trio 1043 Rap Team.

"The main difficulty is too few people understand what you do. They think you're odd or a madman," Liu said of the challenges as a rapper.

Another Beijing rapper, 22-year-old Huang Shuo, goes by the name of MC N-Bomb. He feels the majority of people in China find hip-hop difficult to understand, saying it's still perceived as a novelty.

"Local people don't even think it's a kind of performance. Hip-hop audiences in China are still young, while audiences in the US are much more diverse. Even people in their 30s or 40s like rap music," he said.

MC Webber, who started rapping before the Internet boom, is all too aware of the effect it has had on the growth of music. "Some fans will buy my CD and then upload it on the Internet, which makes it difficult when I try to distribute it," he said. "Because people have more opportunities to promote their music online, they focus more on embellishing their image rather than on the quality of their music, which only reduces the quality of music culture."

MC Webber headlines Saturday's concert, with Sbazzo and Metro Clan performing in support.

When: 10 pm-late, August 10-11

Where: Club Mix, inside Workers' Stadium North Gate, Gongtibei Lu, Chaoyang district

Tickets: 100 yuan

Contact: 6530-2889

Wu Kameng contributed to this story

Posted in: ARTS, Music, Metro Beijing

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