My project has evolved a bit since last posted upon. I am waiting on a few inter-library loans that I requested recently, but I feel like I have an adequate base of information to tackle the topic of Chinese hip hop.
I was interested by the reading that we had for class today – which actually tie into my topic pretty well given that I too am researching music as a historical primary source. I am in touch with an informed and willing source on the Chinese Hip Hop culture now, so I feel that this will be an asset to me as I get further into the research.
My project will be investigating Chinese Hip Hop music and culture as a source of freedom of expression in China today (and in the past decade). As a new trend, this topic has a fair amount of primary sources available in the musical products themselves as well as some useful interviews. I have many questions at this point in the process which I am having trouble narrowing.
I want to relate this movement to the Rock movement in China, which I believe parallels our American hip hop and rock movements well. Specifically I want to look at the Rock artist Cui Jian and his support, and later disaproval from Chinese officials. He is an interesting artist because he does play to the rules and regulations for some time, but also pushes the boundaries and suffers the consequences. In regards to the American movement – I feel that there is a plethora of information out there about how it began as a minority culture, but I am hoping that I will have enough information on purely Chinese movements that I will not be focusing on American Hip Hop or Rock for the bulk of my research.
I want to investigate the progress that Hip Hop artists in China ave made since the birth of the movement as well. Hip Hop is popular, but not embraced by mass media in China up to this point – I want to investigate the specific restrictions on this sort of self expression. I foresee myself focusing on a few songs in order to use lyrics to emphasis the rebellious nature of hip hop. Most of the music that I have access to is on the internet – which I understand is really the main forum for Chinese Hip Hop all together.
I have a few sources that I believe will be most helpful. http://www.dongting08.com/ is a compilation of critics and comments on Chinese Hip Hop which is friendly to those not fluent in the language. On this site, there are several in depth repsponses to the article which brought me down this road in the first place – a New York Times article entitled “Now Hip Hop Too is Made in China.” Dongting also compiled a series of You Tube video interviews with artists and officianados of Chinese Hip Hop which have been very interesting. I am also compiling various videos from well known artists (though it is hard to find the subtitles sometimes). I’m still searching for the primary source that I want everyone to enjoy with me – but here is one that is particularly interesting – with subtitles and very much a propaganda video (having yet to delve into it too much myself, I don’t have too much to say except for that it is very pointed and anti Tibet). http://www.danwei.org/featured_video/hip_hop_user_generated_propaga.php is the link.
Some shortcomings that I anticipate would be that I cannot understand Chinese, making many of the sources available UNavailable to me. I also think I am trying to pursue a difficult topic in that the censorship “rules and regulations” aren’t straight forward and defined. I want to pursue it because that is what is most interesting to me, but I hope that I can find enough to be conclusive in this area of my research. As I do more research I hope to narrow my topic to a few artists and specific songs as well so that instead of a general statement I can have a more in depth analysis. Regardless, it is a daunting task given a quote I came across for the second time today from an artist “…individuals who decide to write about Chinese hip hop should be able to comprehend Chinese; this would help them avoid faulty translations and misquotations.” I’ll try not to do that for sure – but that definitely puts the pressure on.