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It’s well known that the government in China heavily regulates the media and content its citizens consume. From a political standpoint, it makes sense as the Communist Party wants to censor anything that criticizes their group or China. In a recent development, the government has surprisingly decided to ban anything “hip-hop related” from the airwaves.

At the end of January, the country’s top media regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT), is now requiring “that programs should not feature actors with tattoos [or depict] hip-hop culture, sub-culture (non-mainstream culture) and dispirited culture (decadent culture).” The official rules include:

  • Absolutely do not use actors whose heart and morality are not aligned with the party and whose morality is not noble
  • Absolutely do not use actors who are tasteless, vulgar and obscene
  • Absolutely do not use actors whose ideological level is low and have no class
  • Absolutely do not use actors with stains, scandals and problematic moral integrity

With the new rulings, several popular Chinese hip-hop artists have been removed from TV programming without any explanation because obviously, you can’t question anything about the government.

Hip-hop has become one of the most highly influential music genres in the world. In the US, hip-hop surpassed rock as the most listened to. The culture’s strength was proven in China by a reality show called The Rap of China, which reached 100 million views in four hours of its premiere and accumulated 1.3 billion views in a little over a month. It’s extremely unfortunate to have a certain “culture” banned because the government is assuming anything related to hip-hop is explicit and obscene. There’s a certain slice of the music that’s true, but ultimately it’s about freedom of expression and the government is probably afraid that artist will inspire political criticism through music. There’s no way that the Communist Party is going to allow a song along the lines of YG’s “F*ck Donald Trump” to reach the masses.

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Rex Pham

Originally from the Bay Area, who then moved to Los Angeles, then out to New York City. NYU Stern MBA c/o 2014. Inspired by the grind of NYC to create something that has value. Lover of all things digital, culture, and brand strategy.

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