Lay Zhang Drops Ancient Chinese Banger “Jade” and It’s a Pun

The EXO graduate is back with the title track off his new album

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3:28 PM HKT, Tue May 26, 2020

Lay Zhang has dropped the title track off his upcoming album “Jade”, and it’s got a little something for everyone.

The track carries forward in the trap-era, Chinese-nostalgia-revivalist style pioneered in recent years by folks like Kris Wu. That makes sense, seeing that Kris and Lay used to perform together as part of K-pop group EXO, and along with other ex-members like Luhan, have become torch-holders in bringing back the polished professionalism of Korea’s sound and re-contextualizing it for Chinese fans.

The track opens up on the unmistakable sound of Chinese opera percussion — Vava how we feeling right now? — before dropping into Lay’s verse. It doesn’t hurt that the beat is an absolute banger, produced by Murda Beatz.

We gotta say, Lay has done a great job of balancing his linguistic approach, switching effortlessly in and out of English and Mandarin, sometimes mid-bar. The standout instance of this is his playing with the homophonic relationship between the English you and the Mandarin , meaning jade:

玉 玉 玉 玉 玉 玉
没人比你珍贵 you (no one is more precious than you)
只有我懂的美 you (only beauty that I know)
But ain’t nobody shine like
玉 玉 玉 玉 玉 玉
Ain’t nobody shine like you
I know you like diamonds too
But ain’t nobody shine like 玉

Of course, the comments section is filled with fandom, much of it from the EXO-L fan community:

“How many EXO-L here to support Lay?” reads the top-rated comment on the song’s official YouTube audio.

“I also love how carefully crafted Lay’s songs are,” writes another. “He never disappoints.”

Keep on shining, Lay Zhang — ain’t nobody shine like 玉.

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