Since January 23, rap artists are no longer allowed on public broadcasts in China.

China, despite slowly capitalizing over the last few decades, every now and then really likes to remind everyone that no, they’re not a free country, and bans something seemingly arbitrary. The list of things that China has banned is pretty long, and includes pretty much all the social media sites, plus bikini-clad video game characters. Up until 2014, they had even banned all gaming consoles!

The latest thing to be put on the chopping block is something of a more sensitive topic: rap music. According to a statement released by the country’s broadcast regulator, “Celebrities with tattoos, hip-hop culture (including rap), and morbid content will not be permitted on [television and radio] programs.” They directly stated that lyrics about using drugs is a major reason, but other “vulgar” topics covered by rap that ruffles Big Brother’s feathers may include sexual content and misogyny as well.

▼ Female rapper VAVA has been removed from a TV show because of her music style.

However, Japanese media outlet Kyodo believes that the Chinese government is using “vulgarity” as an excuse to ban rap because the lyrics have a tendency to preach anti-authoritarianism, which we all know China isn’t a fan of. This falls in line with similar allegedly-disguised attempts to control content that its citizens have access to, such as their ban on dozens of anime titles.

The ban comes on the heels of state criticism against popular Chinese rap artists, like PG One and GAI, whose lyrics can be explicitly sexual, and who allegedly promote drug use with their music, according to the state. From what we can tell the ban seems to target Chinese rap artists, but it has not been specified whether foreign hip-hop stars will also be banned from performing in China.

▼ A live performance by PG One and GAI

It remains to be seen where the line of “rap music” and “hip-hop music” will be drawn. Whether or not pop songs containing the occasional rap interlude will also be banned, regardless of lyrical content, and regardless of origin is something that’s yet to be revealed.

Netizens’ responses to the news were mixed:

“China is really strict about drugs. If you consider their history it’s not really surprising.”
“Does this mean that [Japanese pop group] Arashi won’t be able to perform in China anymore?”
“Just as they were starting to get popular in Japan and Korea!”
“Next they’re going to ban rock and metal music too!”
“They’re getting stricter and stricter with oppressing counter culture. Making it obsolete and ‘uncool’ is the most effective way to do it.”

Whatever you may think, the future seems a bit bleak for the Chinese hip-hop music industry. It may also have resounding effects in music industries from around the world, as China is a major consumer of Japanese and U.S. music as well as its own. Hopefully this won’t have too large of an impact on the worldwide hip-hop community, but at least we can safely say that one rap song will stick around in China: the Communist Youth League’s “This is China.”

Source: Kyodo via Golden Times
Top image: YouTube/bily bili