Matthew Niederhauser on Chinese hip-hop

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Really interesting film on Chinese hip-hop with Matthew Niederhauser. Niederdauser is a polyglot: an artist, photojournalist and documentary maker.  His plied his trade in China as photojournalist and had explored high-speed China’s urban development.

Matthew Niederhauser realised that the development wasn’t just about infrastructure but the myriad personal stories. Some of the personal stories of the under class revolved around a new culture. The cultural change involved the nascent rap scene. This was frowned up by the authorities, seen as little better than gangsterism.

Western culture is viewed with suspicion by the authorities, as are tattoos and graffiti art.

Issues coming out in songs on CDs. They seem surprisingly tame next to gangster rap, but China wouldn’t tolerate anything else. Instead the lyrics speak to the pressure cooker environment of Chinese society:

  • Generational tensions
  • The restrictions of everyday life
    • The boss at work who is always on your case
    • The pressure of having to conform comes from family, the government, society, the media, your workplace
      • One-child policy children might be little emperors and empresses but there are a lot of expectations on them if they are to stand any chance of succeeding in life
      • Personal interests or hobbies aren’t really ‘a thing’
      • You’re expected to be married before 30. In order to get married you need an apartment and car. Both of which are expensive in major Chinese cities
    • The pressure of being at school

Live battles:

  • Personal attacks
  • Where they are from
  • Why they rap and try to connect with the audience


The video is on YouTube which may not be able to be viewed by some readers