Chinese rapper After Journey hints at new songs with viral ‘exam essay’
Published: Jun 09, 2021 06:21 PM
Chinese rapper After Journey Photo: Sina Weibo

Chinese rapper After Journey Photo: Sina Weibo

One of China's most high pressure nation-wide exams, the gaokao, or national college entrance exams, kicked off on Monday. Every year around this time, parts of the test, particularly the gaokao essay portion, inevitably become hot topics of discussion on Chinese social media. The year 2021 has not been an exception, and it seems that at least one star is taking it to promote a new release. After Journey, a rapper from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has captured netizens' attention by writing an "essay" hinting that he has a new song on the way. 

Talking about the essay topic in the Beijing English essay exam - "As Li Hua, write a 100 word email to apologize and explain the reason why you have to cancel an appointment with your friend Jim" - After Journey posted the following on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Tuesday:  "…sorry that I cannot go out with you tonight, because I'm gonna release my new songs tonight…." 

The rapper's post quickly ranked up more than 5,000 comments as fans discussed whether this was really a hint that some new works would be released soon. His "essay" also became a trending topic on Sina Weibo, earning more than 1.5 billion views as of Wednesday afternoon. 

"I think why it is trending is because the way he relates to the gaokao is creative and unexpected. Other stars have also been posting about the gaokao, cheering on students, but many of those posts feel formulaic and not as interesting as After Journey's," Mark, an After Journey fan in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday.   

"I want him to include his gaokao essay as lyrics in his new song," posted a netizen on Sina Weibo.  

Though After Journey did not release any songs the night after his post, his creative move has been seen by netizens as a way to lighten up the serious atmosphere surrounding the gaokao

"Yes, I defiantly would be more cheered up if I saw encouraging messages from my idol, but I would rather see something like After Journey's post, which makes me laugh, than others that always say 'you can do it,' which make me feel even more pressured," Xiaoxue, a high-school student who is on track to take the 2022 gaokao, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

It hasn't been just the English essay topic that has inspired netizen discussion; the essay questions for the Chinese course have also started trending on social media, with people online describing some provincial essay topics are as "philosophical" challenges leading students to write about the meaning of life. Other netizens expressed support for essay topics touching on the subject of patriotism, saying that such topics can lead students to value the history of the country ahead of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). 

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