US rapper Lil Pump has triggered an uproar in China after posting a video of a song containing racially offensive lyrics and a squinty-eye gesture, inspiring Chinese rap artists to fire back with “diss tracks”.
The 18-year-old Colombian-American rapper, whose real name is Gazzy Garcia, posted the song on his Instagram account on Monday (Dec 17), drawing more than four million views and a slew of angry comments, many written in Chinese.
While pulling the corner of his eyes, Lil Pump mentioned China’s retired NBA legend Yao Ming and used a racial slur that mocks the way Chinese people talk: “They call me Yao Ming ’cause my eyes real low (Ching Chong)”.
The song, “Butterfly Doors”, prompted Chinese rapper Li Yijie – whose stage name is Pissy – to hit back with a diss track titled “Fxxx Lil Pump”.
Pissy, of Sichuan hip-hop group CD Rev – or Chengdu Revolution – told AFP he had “to take action if he humiliated me, a Chinese citizen, in a rapper’s way that we both understand”.
His lyrics go: “The fact is you and white racists the same / Respect yourself, you’ve suffered the pain / You don’t know anything bout the history / Cuz you a nation of immigrants, and if you really won’t take it serious. Check it out on those Indians.”
The hashtag “CD Rev’s official fightback” was one of the hottest topics on China’s Twitter-alike Weibo and was viewed more than 440,000 times.
Pissy’s original video was taken down on Weibo, and he acknowledged that it was probably due to him cursing in the song. He re-uploaded the track on his own music streaming site on NetEase.
Pissy’s group CD Rev is famous for its close connection with the government and for singing patriotic rap.
“(The Chinese) hip-hop scene wants to give a voice to the public on international news. Rap is our weapon to protect ourselves or to fight,” Pissy told AFP.
PG One, co-winner of a hit TV show “The Rap of China”, also posted a new diss track titled “Repeater” on Weibo, mocking the repetition in Lil Pump’s best-known song “Gucci Gang”.
The response comes as rap has faced some restrictions in China, with a leaked government directive indicating this year that television programmes should ban guests from “hip-hop culture”, “with tattoos” and “decadence culture”, though “The Rap of China” was not affected.
Tommy Sire, a 29-year-old rapper living in Shanghai, said he thinks Lil Pump rapped such words due to “ignorance” but the counterattacks from Chinese artists could play a positive role in China’s hip-hop circle.
“I think it’s a good thing for a Chinese rapper to come out and diss back in the hip-hop culture, because this can allow American hip-hop enthusiasts to know that China has such a culture,” Sire, whose real name is Geng Tao, told AFP.
“Although it may not be a positive exchange, it’s a form of exchange to some extent,” Sire said.
“This may also cause the Chinese rap circle to be more united because they found a common enemy.”