Global Hip Hop
Chinese rapper Wang Xiaolei looks to Jay-Z as a model and brings a taste of China to the hip hop world.
Wang has reasons to be optimistic, at least about his career.
He's becoming a player himself in Chinese hip hop.
Wang: "It means crazy, restless, not afraid of anything. It means I don't need to think too much, don't need to think about too many regulations. I try to be free."
There's also the fact that the character "si" sounds like the English word "sir." And Wang performs under the name "MC Sir" or, more recently, "China Sir." He likes the idea that his music can bring a taste of China to the hiphop world.
Wang raps about cold rooms and cold faces, about lies told and personas transformed. He says, "Serve the People" is now just a slogan, and the pure of heart are hard to find. That was a decade ago.
Wang: "Actually, honestly, it is not good for me judge anything, because after all, China is so big and there are so many people. It is very difficult to manage and I think it is not easy for China to be the way it is right now. So I still support my government, and I am not very rebellious. I am dissatisfied with some people I meet in society, some people I see, but I am not dissatisfied with our government"
After all, Wang says, there are good things about how China is developing. Some people are making their fortunes almost overnight - just not him, not yet. But he's got plans. His first CD comes out later this year. He started a recording label and has sold it to a Taiwanese company. He wants to start another. He looks to rapper Jay-Z as a model of where he'd like to be in a few years.
Meanwhile, Wang says he's trying to give Chinese hiphop more of a Chinese flavor. In this piece, he sneaks in a sly salute to Daoism.
Wang says, he's not jumping on some nationalistic bandwagon by focusing on things Chinese. It's just that, after years absorbing Western hiphop culture, he has come to embrace who he is, where he is - Chinese in China, at a time of change.
The "Global Hit" is a regular feature on PRI's "The World," highlighting global music. "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.