China’s Ban on Hip-Hop from Television Causes Many to Speak Their Minds
Last month, the State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s media regulator, prohibited television stations from hiring anyone who embodied “hip-hop culture” or other sub-cultures, including anyone with tattoos. Since then, many have voiced their opinions on the matter.
Alan Hsia, co-founder of LOOP Inc., which tours artists in China, feels that the ban “is more about allowing hip-hop to be on mainstream platforms. It seems like hip-hop culture influenced mainstream culture [in China] too big and too fast.”
Marcus Rowland, head of artists and repertoire for music-services company Outdustry, seconds this idea, agreeing that the ban is not an attack on hip hop in general. “This is not the Chinese government trying to ‘fully suppress’ hip-hop. The government exerts massive control over TV and it has decided that hip-hop isn’t acceptable at the highest level of mainstream media.”
The ban is an effort by SAPPRFT to showcase talents who are moral and loyal to Chinese Communist Party. It came into existence not long after two winners of the popular television show Rap of China, PG One and GAI, were criticized for “bad behavior or content at odds with Communist Party values.” For this reason, some, including Billy Koh, a Beijing-based pop producer, feel that the ban is targeted at artists who emerged from that show, specifically.
“The government is flexing its muscle to guide hip-hop in China to project positivity while filtering out the negativity," says Stephen Dowler. He went on to say that in this process, some individuals may be caught up, but he supports the ultimate goal of trying to make hip-hop more positive and does not believe that the government is aiming to suppress hip-hop as a whole, due to Chairman Xi’s support at the last government meeting.
Hip hop has been targeted by the Chinese government in the past. In 2015 alone, 120 rap songs were deemed “too scandalous” and blacklisted. As recently as January, PG One was forced to apologize for some lyrics in his song “Christmas Eve.”
Ironically, this string of events comes at a time when R&B/hip-hop has become the most dominant genre in the United States.