“I’m Not an Idol, Call me a Rapper”: PG One Re-Emerges on WeChat

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6:30 PM HKT, Tue July 10, 2018 3 mins read

At the end of April, we reported that Rap of China co-champion PG One had had his account on microblogging platform Weibo (which boasted 4.09 million followers at the time) deleted. The move followed criticism by the Communist Youth League over “vulgar” lyrics from one of his older songs, which was then compounded by a rumor of an affair with a married actress. Having disappeared for a few months, at the beginning of this year, PG One announced his return in spring, and then was swiftly removed by the Weibo platform.

All that drama didn’t change his mind about getting back in the game, it now appears.

On June 24, on a private Weibo account with comments banned, PG One posted a photo of himself with the text “DENOVO” for his 184 thousand followers. Three day later, PG One’s work studio posted a video on “Weibo Stories” (a feature much like “Stories” on Instagram) featuring a mystery QR code that, when scanned, links to a WeChat account with a single sentence: “Just freestyle.”

Once inside the public WeChat account “D1NOVO,” you find the rap champion’s secret freestyle:

Yo, check 1 2, Can you hear? I know how hard it’s been for you all to wait for half a year / But don’t worry / I’m still at my best level / People all live to overcome barriers / From last summer to this summer, fuck man / I’ve gone through so much, while my music is a lot purer / When I see it, god damn / I cannot stay at the same place and make myself inhuman / I’m not an idol, call me a rapper / They’re guessing about where I’ve been / I’m the king, why would I give up / I have a lawsuit that doesn’t allow me to release all my work / But I don’t give a fuck, and I don’t want to complain / Who cares if blah blah will burst this year / Now there are rappers everywhere, who are still not capable/ I just want to tell my fans: Welcome home

This publication strategy seems to be working so far. The WeChat account provides minimal information: its description is simply “the source of happiness,” and PG One’s name doesn’t show up anywhere. Evidently, the rapper’s fans have been very patient for his return — his latest WeChat post on July 3 has been shared around, and has even shown up back on Weibo. Here’s a clip from that:

Was depressed for a while / But my life has to go on / What’s funny is that it’s so dramatic / It dragged me to hell from heaven / I deleted Weibo and WeChat / All messages are delivered by friends / My world was ruined and lost all color / One reason I’ve been looked down on since childhood is I never learned to be sophisticated / Fuck PG One, Fuck HHH, Fuck trolls / Now you don’t need to speak / Let me fuck myself / You do nothing but criticize how bad I am and all this crap / Really speechless, aren’t you tired of it yet? / Do you just want to prove you’re right so you keep following me? / Knock it off fake fake / Just freestyle

The new freestyle has been viewed over 100,000 times (the maximum view count that can be displayed on WeChat accounts), and liked 38.6 thousand times. The numbers are impressive, especially given that PG One seemed to have little chance of returning to the public eye at the same level of stardom he enjoyed around this time last year.

But, like he said, maybe he never was an idol, but simply a talented 24-year-old underground rapper.

On July 8, PG One posted a picture on his newly-opened WeChat account showing him in all black and his trademark mask, positioned next a scarlet “D” logo and the words “Dee Van” — a store in that name can now be found on Taobao, China’s biggest e-commerce platform. Although nothing has been listed yet, it would appear that PG One and his team are preparing a hip-hop fashion brand.

This is kind of surprising, but a smart move — he has a pretty good taste in fashion, and many hoodies, t-shirts and baseball caps that he has worn have become hot sellers on Taobao. He was even invited to the Victoria’s Secret gala in Shanghai last November.

Stores selling PG One-style clothing on Taobao

It has been a tough yet prosperous year for Chinese hip hop. As the new season of Rap of China gets set to begin airing this weekend, are all of the contestants ready for what they might encounter — something more than raw rap talents dissing each other online or at bars? Will there be a champion with “positive energy” to make a difference this year? We’ll let you know.

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