Author: Nathanel Amar

A Playlist for Wuhan

Wuhan has been at the center of the world’s news lately, as the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. But as I already said in a article on RadiiChina, Wuhan is first and foremost the birthplace of Chinese punk, and has a long tradition of dissent, rebellion and underground music. RadiiChina…

Sinophone Musical Worlds (1): Circulations of Sounds, Affects and Identities

Very happy to announce the publication of the first issue of “Sinophone Musical Worlds” in China Perspectives!   This special feature of China Perspectives offers an original insight on music as part of the Sinophone studies. By crisscrossing different disciplines, territories, and musical objects, the first volume of this project…

Travel In Desert 荒漠旅行, 2003 – The First Wuhan Punk Compilation

This is maybe the last testimony of the music early Wuhan punk bands. As mentioned earlier in this article on Wuhan punk, Wuhan was one of the first cities, with Beijing, to witness the apparition of a punk subculture in China, around the mid-1990s. In 2003, five bands joined their…

What’s Happening with Li Zhi (and Cui Jian)? An Update on Online Music Censorship and Chinese Rock

Music censorship in China is not new, it has made the headline in the recent past during the infamous « hip-hop ban » of January 2018. During the so-called « hip-hop ban », we could literally see the panic of the official censors when confronted to the popularization of a youth subculture they knew…

The First Chinese Hip-Hop Crew? Hi Bomb (黑棒), « 嘻哈第一棒 », 2004

I was going through a pile of Mandopop albums in a tiny Chinese music/video store located in a basement of Los Angeles’ Chinatown when I stumbled upon a dusty album published in 2004 displaying on the cover two guys dressed as 1990s American rappers called Hi Bomb (黑棒). The cover…

2018 in Music: a Shortlist

2018 was an interesting and eventful year for Chinese music. The so-called « hip-hop ban », Freddy Lim and his band Chthonic banned from entering Hong Kong for a festival organized by Denise Ho, the Lil Pump scandal… But 2018 was also a year of intense musical creation. So what to retain…

Da Qingshan Music Festival – 大青山音乐节, Beijing, 24 November 2018

On March 10, 2018 the Inner Mongolian metal band Nine Treasures (九宝) organized a festival in Hohhot, with 9 (Inner) Mongolian metal/rock bands. The goal of Nine Treasures was to develop the Inner Mongolian metal scene by providing both famous and younger bands with an opportunity to perform in their…

So Rock! Magazine (我爱摇滚乐) CD Archive Project

We previously talked about 1990s rock magazines in China, as « Punk Generation » (朋克时代) or « Freedom Music » (自由音乐). They pretty much all disappeared after one or two years. One fanzine however became so popular that he was distributed in major Chinese cities, and lasted for more than a decade… I’m talking…

[English] Remembering June 4th in Songs

The history of the Chinese 1989 democratic movement is also a musical story. Singers, mostly rockers, were mobilized in favor of the students, who often sing their songs during the protests. It’s now a cliché to remind that Cui Jian’s song « 一无所有 » (« Nothing to my Name ») was the anthem of…

[English] Chinese Rock Magazines, 1998-2001

If you still remember what we said before (yes, it’s been a while), you know that in the mid-1990s something new is going on in China. Between a new « cultural fever » (文化热), the apparition of dakou (打口) CDs and tapes, and the formation of China’s first punk bands, the Chinese…

[English] Visual Archives: Documentaries on Chinese Underground Music

In this post, I will try to list all the documentaries that were produced on Chinese independent music. A lot of these documentaries can be found online, but there is no systematic listing, and some are unknown to the general public. So here is a list (provisional and that will…

[English] Wuliao Jundui (无聊军队), 1999

If UnderBaby paved the way for punk music in China by offering the possibility for bands to rehearse in their Baihua’r hutong room, it’s the punk collective « Wuliao Jundui » (无聊军队 – namely the « Boredom Contingent ») that truly laid the foundations of Chinese punk, for better and worse. Spoiler alert: there…