My personal WeChat Moments feed was flooded recently with the first song that Chongqing rapper GAI delivered to a national audience on the stage of Singer, one of China’s most-viewed reality shows. I was surprised to even see friends of mine who don’t seem to like rap music sharing GAI’s song.
As his excited audience was preparing to watch GAI’s second appearance on the show on this Friday’s episode of Singer, GAI was abruptly removed from the program. Videos featuring GAI seem to have been removed from the show’s official video platform on Youku.com following the announcement:
GAI’s heartbroken fans took to Youku’s comment section to express their sadness:
“The reason why I watched Singer was GAI, and now I have no mood to watch it at all. All my expectations are in vain.”
“This is how GAI got kicked off… I really want to listen to his song of this week…”
So, what happened over the last two days?
“The secretary of the propaganda department, Gao Changli, brought up that when radio and TV shows invite guests, they should [adhere to] ‘Four Firmly Don’t Use’: firmly don’t use actors who are in conflict with the Party’s core values and morals; firmly don’t use actors who are vulgar and kitsch; firmly don’t use actors who have low class and unrefined tastes; firmly don’t use actors who have gossiping and moral problems. In addition, SAPPRFT requires that artists with tattoos, hip hop music, sub-culture (non-mainstream culture) and depressed culture (decadent culture) can not be on any shows.”
Although GAI had tried his best to enter the mainstream — he shouted “Mother country, hurray!” in “I want to be on the Spring Festival Gala” on CCTV in an incredibly awkward moment — he and hip hop music have lost SAPPRFT’s favor, and are not likely to ascend China’s biggest stage at next month’s Spring Festival Gala.
What does this mean for season 2 of hit series The Rap of China? Will Chinese hip hop rise again in the mainstream? Will rappers like GAI get back on a public stage?
We hope this isn’t the end of Chinese hip hop’s sudden boon. For now we can only hold on to the memory of how GAI danced happily on the second episode of Singer, which never got to air.
Cover image: Weibo