Bad rap: Chinese fans fear crackdown on hip hop

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SHANGHAI - Chinese music fans are bracing for a crackdown on hip hop after a rapper was apparently dropped from a popular singing program, as reports emerged that the government had soured on the often-provocative genre.

Hip hop is a late arrival to China's cultural scene but homegrown artists have steadily gained fans, getting a major boost over the past year thanks to singing-contest reality programs showcasing their talent.

But rappers have recently raised hackles with vulgar or edgy lyrics, and fans fear hip hop has become the latest target of an escalating crackdown on content deemed potentially threatening to the ruling Communist Party.

On Friday social media began circulating a government order apparently issued to Chinese broadcasters banning them from giving air time to "artists with tattoos, hip hop music" and other performers who are "in conflict with the party's core values and morals".

Popular portal Sina.com said the directive came from Gao Changli, a top official with the government agency that oversees the media. The order has not been officially released.

But a rapper known as GAI, who has nearly four million followers on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform, was suddenly absent from Friday's airing of the popular reality show "Singer".

GAI is now no longer featured as one of the contestants, prompting online speculation that he was a casualty of the new rules.

"This is a sign that hip hop will be banned," said one of many comments on Weibo.

"Although some of it is rubbish, hip hop itself is not wrong. Its core spirit is still positive... Hip hop has just emerged and now it is being rudely banned. Isn't this cultural regression?" - AFP


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