In 2017, hip-hop took over China, in a large part due to a popular internet-based reality talent show called 中国有嘻哈 (Rap of China).
I was really late to hop on the bandwagon. So late in fact that by the point I binge watched the entire show earlier this year, rap has essentially been soft-banned in China.
Nevertheless, I was inspired to try write something myself, with the idea of mixing Chinese & English being something I was particularly interested in doing.
As some of the contestants said in the show, the most important part of rap is to “keep it real” and tell your own truth so that’s what I tried to do. If I couldn’t incorporate any complex rhyme patterns or have sophisticated flow changes, at least I could take a snapshot at my life in 2018.
I feel like this attempt is very juvenile and rushed but it was from the heart and so much fun so I wanted to share it anyway!
Now to be clear, it’s pretty evident, even if you don’t understand what I’m saying, that my musical background isn’t the strongest and I tried to force my lyrics into a backing track that wasn’t tailored for it (& therefore about 1/3 of the through I’m painfully offbeat) so that’s my bad, I didn’t have time to make it better/was too eager to put something out even if it’s really rough.
That’s my longwinded pre-amble, I hope you can find something in here that speaks to you.
Original lyrics & translated version (English) below:
You know, I used to be so scared of dying.
It was the rounding of a circle, the fade to black, permanent non-existence if you will.
Nowadays, death seems less daunting, more like a spoiler alert, you know? At first I thought it meant I grew up but maybe that’s not it. I used to want to leave a legacy, now I just want to stop feeling so… numb.
我们 talk loud,
bullshit about ourselves,
never shut our mouths,
发誓 we would beat the crowd,
if only we knew then
what we know now.
别看了, 腐烂了 要饭了,
怎么 这么 轻易 你我就拆了它?
床下 monsters 逐渐靠拢,
流血流泪, got to be strong.
有种 你就keep keep going on
against ourselves we 挣扎着
be the 倔强的莲花 绽放
lead us through the darkness.
In my heart there hides a muddied, hopeless swamp.
It’s made of frustrations collected from time and experiences.
Even in the prime of youth, all I want is to fill my stomach.
Running late every day but never breaking into a run.
There’s a pressure in the heart and tiredness in the brain.
Let the world witness the stagnated life
of a desperate shell without soul.
Do you remember the good old days when we’d talk loud,
bullshit about ourselves, never shut our mouths?
We swore we would beat the crowd,
if only we knew then what we know now:
People will leave, dreams will fade,
saddest of all, hearts with change.
Rotting, begging, nothing better left to do,
surely even nomads fall asleep and dream of home,
can’t remember how we so easily decided to destroy our own?
At night, we see stars in the sky,
with time, we see emptiness of the heart.
All the monsters under the bed are inching closer.
Though I’m terrified, mostly of emptiness and of being lost,
I know that even if I bleed or cry, I got to be strong.
Empty promises sprout out of unbridled youth.
It takes something special to keep keep going on.
Even if we’re brought to our knees, stumbling, crawling,
against ourselves we must continue fighting.
Let the stubborn lotus flower, bottom of the heart,
blossom and lead us through the darkness.
After the rain, we’ll find rainbow catharsis.