WATCH: Chinese Hip Hop Pioneer J-Fever Brings Tiger Energy to the Mic

“I felt like it was a new encounter, like a road I’ve never been down before”

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9 months ago 1 mins read

Spring Festival — more commonly known in the West as Chinese New Year — has arrived, which means kicking back with family and friends to eat, drink, and celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Tiger. People born as ‘tigers’ are often associated with bravery, confidence, and competitiveness. To honor these traits, RADII has teamed up with Peddlers Gin to bring you ‘Spirit of the Tiger’ — a selection of inspiring stories from fascinating tigers across China.

Thirty-six-year-old J-Fever was born in the Year of the Tiger in the ’80s and is one of China’s original hip hop pioneers.

Today, hip hop is everywhere in the country, from state-sponsored TV shows like Rap of China to brands embracing the culture to stay relevant. But 20 years ago, when J-Fever was first getting into freestyling and battling, he felt very alone.

“I felt like it was a new encounter, like a road I’ve never been down before,” he says.

The industry has grown up around him throughout his career, but he always continued exploring. His travels, from Peru to Japan, have inspired his work.

Freestyle has always been an essential aspect of his music, so much so that he helped establish an app called Bluegrass to bring young rappers online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He has focused on bringing up young talent and even battling with them from Japan, where he was stuck during the early days of the pandemic.

The image of a tiger seems fierce, he says, but it can also be gentle and protective: The jaws of a tiger can provide security, like a cat carrying a kitten.

Watch the video below to learn about J-Fever’s musical journey and artistic inspirations:

Click here for more videos from the ‘Spirit of the Tiger’ series.

Cover image via Graeme Kennedy

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