When I was a kid, I hated hip-hop and rap. “They always sing about sex, drugs, and money,” I told my dad. Eight years later, I’m listening to Chinese hip-hop and rap almost every day.
I think what made me change my mind about the genre is the fact when I was young, I was only exposed to the music here. Now that I’m able to choose what to listen to and have better methods of getting my music, I have grown to love Canto hip-hop and rap. As you will see with my top ten list, almost all of the songs are about change: changing the government, changing society, changing yourself. Hong Kong’s music industry isn’t just about selling melodious pop tracks; most of their songs have messages that we can all learn a little from.
– Kristine Wong
1. FAMA (農夫) – “Raise Your hand (舉高隻手)”
Through their honest lyrics and experimental sounds, hip-hop duo FAMA has made their everlasting mark on Hong Kong’s music industry. The duo is comprised of C-Kwan and 6-Wing, who write their own songs and have appeared in numerous HK movies, as well as had several television shows. “Raise Your Hand” is an anthem for HK’s younger generation, with the powerful message of “Raise your hand, you don’t need to be shy.” In other words, people should speak out and take action when it’s needed.
2. Jin (歐陽靖) ft. KT — “2010″
MC Jin, a name that I’m sure most of you know, began in the States and has pursued his music career further in HK over the past several years. I personally think that he’s an inspiration. He is so confidant and talented, which shows through his music and T.V. appearances. I liked his ABC album, although the lyrics catered more towards ABCs (which made my HK friends despise him). But, when they heard “2010” they actually really liked it. “2010” is about the current year, and the lyrics are about new years’ resolutions and how to spend the holiday. The main line of the chorus may be a combination of two famous lines from older songs — but together they just flow so well. There isn’t an official music video for this relatively new song, but you can still listen to it and see photos of Jin in this MV.
3. Edison Chen ft. Hanjin, MC Yan, + Paisley Wu – “War”
Although some people can only associate Edison Chen with his sex scandal several years back, that doesn’t change the fact that he is an amazing performer. “War” is a well-known song about anguish and frustration towards the society and government. In the music video, pretty boy Edison Chen, Hanjin, MC Yan, and Paisley Wu are dressed as dirty homeless people, roaming on the busy streets of HK. Many pedestrians stop to either watch their performance and record them, but even more just glance at them and look away, not knowing that they are the famous artists that they are, delivering an important message to listeners everywhere.
4. 24 Herbs (廿四味) ft. Charmaine Fong – “Middle of the Laser’s Light (激光中)”
I decided to add “Middle of the Laser’s Light” because it’s a really interesting one. It begins with the chorus of a classic song from the famous Cantopop pioneer Roman Tam and brings it up again within every chorus by Charmaine Fong. Although I don’t think that this is 24 Herb’s best song (my favorite is “Respect到PK,” in which “PK” is the abbreviation for a Cantonese expletive), it is a decent one that is able to show the hip hop/rap group’s versatility and creativeness. 24 Herbs is known for their explicit language and “realness.” They don’t sugarcoat anything. After checking out this song, be sure to check out their other, rawer ones. I recommend “Do You Know Me.”
5. LMF – “1127″
The rap/hip hop group LMF, which stands for Lazy Mutha F*cka, disbanded several years back, but reformed again in early December 2009. They are also known for their cursing, but “1127” illustrates their strong message without relying on expletives. This song is a tribute to Bruce Lee and reminds listeners to take pride and remember our Chinese ancestry, culture, and history, instead of just copying Westerners. Although the song is directed towards the Chinese, I think that it’s not a message for only us. We should all remember our history and embrace our cultures.
6. Point Blanc ft. MC Yan – “Fate”
Another great song with another great message, “Fate” explains that your fate is within your grasp; you have the ability to change it. Point Blanc, another famous rapper, and MC Yan, from LMF, have voices that go really well together. Also, the traditional Chinese sounds in the background mixed with the rapping is very unique and surprisingly easy on the ears.
7. Edison Chen ft. Hanjin, MC Yan – “Hong Kong Place”
I just had to include this song too. It’s such a famous song and it was once really popular in HK — probably because it’s about how Hong Kong people should still stick together and love HK, even though HK has been through so much. One of the greatest lines is “We’re the same kind of people, why do you have to look down upon the others? We’re the same kind of people, we’re able to have the same language. Just because you can speak another language doesn’t make you another kind of person.” Again, “Hong Kong Place” doesn’t apply to just HK people. It teaches citizens to be loyal to the people of their country and the country itself.
8. Ghoststyle ft. Kwokkin – “Lazy on the Grind”
“Lazy on the Grind” is a song about society’s flaws by Ghoststyle and Kwokkin. I think what I like most about the song — besides the message — is the mix of English and Canto. The beat and rhythm make you want to listen to the whole thing. There isn’t much to the music video, but you get to see the two rappers and the (for once!) quiet streets of HK
9. MasterMic – “I Love HK Girls”
MasterMic is a HK local rapper who has created a name for himself in the HK hip-hop community within the past several years. “I Love HK Girls” is a song about the new “hip” term that has been given to the younger generation of HK females, “港女,”which means HK girl. This term has very negative connotations that MasterMic exposes in a sarcastic way. He says that HK girls are said to only spend your money, buy brand name bags, and wear a lot of make up — yet he says that he loves them. This song is a very good model for the direction that rap and hip-hop is going in HK. It’s young, it’s fresh, and it’s fun to listen to.
10. NYCCA – “No. 1″
When I initially came across this song/MV, the only thing I could bring myself to say was “Wow.” NYCCA is a hip-hop artist/rapper who performs in English, Cantonese, and Japanese, and in this case, all three come together in one song. This song is phenomenal, which is why I saved this one for last. The energy is amazing. I don’t know about you, but after listening to it, I really feel like I am “No. 1.” This really does show where hip hop, rap, and music in general is going. In our global world today, music is becoming more accessible to a wider audience by powerful lyrics, or even just the emotions that are evoked by the background music. It is evident that rap and hip-hop are no longer an underground form of music.
Featured image Edison Chen, photo credit Getty Images/WireImage/Bu Ensa