Chinese President Xi Jinping has made his first appearance in a rap music video; the state-sponsored single, “The Reform Group is Two Years Old,” celebrates a Communist Party reform committee’s persecution of allegedly corrupt party officials.
The bizarre track made its debut on state-run CCTV Tuesday, the work of a rapper going by the name Wu Wenduo, who narrates the successes of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms on its two-year anniversary. According to official releases from the Chinese government, the government established the committee to help navigate a number of political problems, ranging from making the Chinese market more attractive to foreign investors to addressing climate change and corruption among high-ranking Communist Party officials.
Wu Wenduo also celebrates the committee’s action on these fronts with his rap lyrics. “Rule the party strictly! Govern the country by law. [The whole country] is overwhelmed with joy,” he raps. “Streamline the administration and delegate power to lower levels and unleash energy.”
While “Big Daddy Xi,” as he is called in the song, does not provide any new words of wisdom, samples of previous speeches he has made do surface as a compliment to Wu’s rapping. “Only the daring will prevail at key stages of reform,” he offers, as well as sentiments like “Let the people’s wish become our action.”
Wu celebrates specific achievements in the song. “They hate smog to the bone,” he raps, adding, “The group is two years old; it has done quite a lot. Tigers, flies, big foxes, CATCH CATCH CATCH CATCH!”
“To rule the party strictly we must harden our bodies, the judicial reform must be victorious,” the song declares. The South China Morning Post has reproduced the full lyrics in English, as well as provided video:
The South China Morning Post notes that the visuals that accompany the rap song appear similar to an English-language propaganda video released on CCTV in October. That video, featuring Albert Einstein and Aladdin Sane-era David Bowie, was meant to celebrate the announcement of the 13th “Five Year Plan,” a political and economic list of communist party reforms that has been rolled out on a regular basis since Mao Zedong took power. Animated characters with muted California accents celebrate the reforms along with peppy music.
Wanna know what China’s gonna do? Best pay attention to the 十三五! See why it matters https://t.co/SgBls5S35A
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) October 27, 2015
Hip-hop has grown increasingly popular in China in the past two decades. The magazine Foreign Policy noted in 2009 that China is home to a rap battle championship known as Iron Mic. China is also home to a network that covers the rap world known as Zhong TV. CNN notes that, while hip-hop has been known in the communist country for years, it took off significantly following the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as that event brought with it thousands of tourists from across the world. The government allowed a rap group known as In3 to release a song in honor of the event, “Beijing Welcomes You Back,” which became a popular sensation.
Perhaps precisely because of its rapid growth in popularity, the Chinese government announced in August that it had blacklisted 120 songs, many of them of the hip-hop genre, because of their allegedly corrosive effect on Chinese cultural values. Among the songs were several by Taiwanese rapper Chang Csun Yuk, including one called “I Love Taiwanese Girls,” which directly rejects Chinese women as attractive mates, and the song “Fart,” which criticizes lazy officials.
Rap is significantly more popular elsewhere in Asia, where governments are more liberal and friendly to the West. In South Korea, for example, many of the nation’s most popular young musical artists are, at least, part-time rappers, including superstars G-Dragon, CL, and Psy. Most rap partly in English.