The Nanfang / Blog

Shenzhen all set for city’s first ever Hip Hop Festival this weekend

Posted: 04/17/2013 10:00 am

A wise duo once said “Alright stop, collaborate and listen”, and while I may be pushing it a little by quoting Vanilla Ice in an article about a hip hop festival, I can’t think of a more applicable lyric for this city’s barrier breaking venture coming up this weekend.

The Hip Hop Festival, which is set to boom-shake-shake-shake the room this coming Saturday, is another example of a fusion between the local community and music – and this time with the added accompaniment of break dancing, graffiti art and DJing.

Show director and host Adrian Blackstock is pumped to get it started. “A big part of my job was organising the cultural direction of the show. It was important for us to incorporate all elements of hip hop – the graffiti, dance and products are equally as important as the rapping.”

This type of festival is a first for Shenzhen, and follows the successful Blues and Folk event, which is set to make a highly anticipated comeback this year. Despite the “tricky, tricky, tricky” task of pulling this all together (that’s the last one I promise) it seems the team are now focused on the performance ahead.

Adrian added, “We made the decision to do this in December and it’s been a real team effort, with everyone spit balling ideas from the start. I’m anxious but excited about making this happen. It will just be good to put on a show and see people enjoy themselves.”

And enjoy themselves they shall! Set in the beautiful F518 area of Bao Bao, the festival boasts superb musical talent from all over the world in addition to the involvement of local artists and businesses.

The event is being put on by Shenzhen Local Music, and is supported by The Nanfang. We’ll see you there!

Event details here.


Guangzhou’s Underground Music: Bosi breaks barriers on hip hop scene

Posted: 03/21/2013 12:57 pm

When China opened its international markets in the early 1990s, new ideals flooded into the country, resulting in a new dawn where the lives of many youths have challenged the old mindsets and traditions of their culture.

One such person is ‘Bosi’, a local rapper.

In a land of Cantopop and drippy love ballads, Bosi is doing something different. “They look down upon rap or hip hop music because they don’t feel hip hop is a kind of music,” says Bosi, who refers to his parents’ opinion regarding his choice of music. “How come there is no melody? They don’t understand the culture and they don’t enjoy the music.”

Bosi is the product of the one-child policy where individuality is often overshadowed by a ‘parents know best’ mentality.

At 14, Bosi had his first taste of hip hop and rap. A friend had introduced him to the infamous Hong Kong band LMF (Lazy Mutha [email protected]#a). The band has been known for its vulgar, abrasive and no-holds-barred attitude regarding society’s injustices from poverty to government corruption.

LMF’s words resonated with the young Bosi.

Eight years later, he is at a place in his life where he must choose to continue honing his craft or abide by the demands of society. “Sometimes, once or twice, I want to give up. I can’t be famous. It’s useless. What do I get from it?”

Bosi’s world is filled with compromises from what he wears on the weekdays as he whiles away at an office to when he should produce his profanity-laced lyrics, knowing his parents’ ears are never far away.

Bosi’s parents prefer music that has rhythm, a beat and words that are easy to understand. His parents prefer Cantopop; it’s safe and marketable.

But Bosi prefers rap and hip hop which still remain underground in Guangzhou. His songs are hard, strong and filled with metaphors, aspirations and observations. In one of his recent songs, he paints a picture of a ship sailing: ‘Although far from the bay / We don’t need to be scared / After we cross the mist / We will see the light.’

At 25, Bosi knows too well that being a Chinese rapper is far different from being a Western one because it’s about having accomplished something. “Foreign rappers would say: I shoot you. Bang. Bang. Bang. Maybe he says that he’s a killer and then he becomes famous and gets rich. But in the Chinese culture, if you say that you’re strong and you say you will kill a person, the Chinese rappers will just say that you’re being fake and laugh at you.”

Bosi already considers himself a veteran in his genre. There are only a handful of good rappers in the city, yet there are lots of wannabe rappers. Many are teenagers who’ve been exposed to Bosi’s concerts. Yet when they’re challenged to pursue a certain lifestyle, many fade away. On the weekends, Bosi can be seen wearing his version of hip hop.

Still, Bosi strives to pierce through this underground world. For some, Bosi is building a platform for discussion. He recalls a time when his song resonated with one of his fans: “I played your song to a girl who later became my girlfriend. Sometimes, when we have arguments we play your songs. They keep us going. Without your songs, I don’t think we would have lasted.”

Such fans have indeed allowed Bosi to keep moving despite knowing that his family doesn’t enjoy his music and believes it’s useless and won’t earn him money. In a country where self-censorship and money are encouraged, giving up won’t make him happy.

“Writing a song is not difficult for me. The most difficult part is to write a song that will go straight to people’s hearts and to make them realize that what I’m saying is right,” he says.

You can listen to Bosi’s music on his Douban site:



The Spin Doctor – Nicolas Jaar, “Space Is Only Noise”

Posted: 05/20/2011 7:34 am

Nicolas Jaar – “Space Is Only Noise”

4.4 out of 5

Nicolas Jaar’s Space Is Only Noise plays like a score to a European art-house film. Floating effortlessly in the background, it is always complementary yet never detracts from the overall focal point which is… well, that’s one of the incredible feats of Space Is Only Noise: the focal point is indeed the space itself. As much as that might sound like a cop-out, a few spins of Jaar’s stunning debut LP clarifies the concept. Fusing an incredible array of musical influences, including French Jazz, dub-step, down-tempo house, lounge, afro beats, minimalist techno, hip-hop, musique concrète and even classical, Jaar miraculously never bites off more than he can chew. The multi-faceted tracks transition seamlessly, and, despite the cornucopia of influences, the mixes possess an atmospheric weightlessness that leave more than enough breathing room.

If you’re asking yourself: “How have I never heard of this guy?”, you’re not alone. Born and currently based in New York, Jaar spent several years abroad in Chile (Jaar is the son of Chilean artist and filmmaker, Alfredo Jaar). Geography aside, Jaar has flown a musical trajectory similar to that of UK wunderkind James Blake. Though only 21, Jaar has released a slew of EP’s (his first, the Student EP, dropped when he was all but 17), remixes, singles and contributed to Circus Company’s Snuggle and Slap compilation. It’s hard to call the career of anyone 21 years of age “prolific”, but Jaar offers a strong argument to the contrary.

Noise opens with “Être”, a sound collage of flowing water, French and English narration, a variety of sampled percussion, vocal accents and children playing, which give way to a beautifully restrained piano melody reminiscent of Max Richter or even Aphex Twin’s Drukqs. Colomb, one of the album’s stronger tracks, is a stunning blend of modulated vocals, synth textures and off-beat percussion. Although there’s no shortage of sounds, the mix never comes off as over-produced. “Keep Me There” starts off mundane enough, with a simple “da, da, da, da” vocal refrain over synth samples. Around the half-way point the track integrates cut samples of saxophone; first one, then two, then several, before a dazzling bass line ties it all together. Other highlights include the grainy “I Got A Woman”, which samples the Ray Charles classic of the same name. Rather than pillage the track, Jaar does the bulk of the work himself utilizing only a single Charles vocal loop: “I got a woman”, Charles croons over delayed pianos, organs, drum loops and additional French vocal samples.

It would be easy to pin Jaar with a “dance music” moniker, if it weren’t for the fact that there’s nothing here one could really dance to. Virtually every track clocks in under 110bpm, only “Space Is Only Noise If You Can See” has enough oomph to really get you moving. With a huge blown-out synthesized beat, the song plays like an outtake from Pantha Du Prince’s Black Noise: “Replace the word space with a drink and forget it, space is only noise that you can see.” Jaar sings with enough vocal reverb and echo to be transmitting from outer-space: “Grab a calculator and fix yourself.”

Though Noise demands a solid pair of headphones to truly appreciate Jaar’s utilization of space in the mix, it certainly doesn’t demand a particular mood or listening environment. In fact, it’s that notion of “space” that embodies the conceptual framework of Noise. It’s as ubiquitous as it is unique. Noise is a record you could listen to while stumbling home through the shadows after a hard night of drinking, and then play it again in the morning to help nurse your hangover. That’s not to suggest it’s an easy record. Though with few exceptions, the tracks herein stand well on their own, it nevertheless takes a few spins of Noise to fully appreciate what Jaar is trying to accomplish. Once that realization is made however, Noise offers something for everyone, particularly when searching for those quiet moments amongst all of the noise.

- Ewan Christie

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