Interview, Mandarin Feature and Graphics by Grace Chen
Translation by Jocelle Koh
Video Editing by Peiling Ngan
BTS Photos by Derek Hao
What is Mandarin hip hop? The term seems self-explanatory; hip hop music performed in Mandarin. Yet there are differences abound between the Mandarin and Western hip hop genres. One such difference is the meaning behind Mandarin hip hop tracks. The meanings behind these songs tend to be more nuanced and deeper; unlike the straightforward nature of Western hip hop songs. As opposed to Western hip hop, Mandarin hip hop has its subtleties and elegance, but also has certain language restrictions due to the rhythmic tendencies of the genre being one word to each beat. Yet such limitations have not hindered the advancements of the scene; but forced mandarin and Asian hip hop artists to be creative and adapt; powering forth at breakneck speed in recent years. From the prominence of 88rising to the push for hip hop’s mainstream surfacing in 2017, there is much to unpack when it comes to Mandarin hip hop in 2019. To start off the discussion, what better place to begin than with an interview with three members of Taiwanese rap label Kungfu Entertainment?
About Kungfu Entertainment
The name Kungfu Entertainment comes from the meaning that everyone has a martial art that they can hone. In the Mandarin rap world, there’s a saying that different hip hop labels specialise in different styles. As for Kungfu Entertainment, through the theme of Kungfu, every person on this earth can create something new. Rapper from Taiwan Dwagie 大支 as the founder of Kungfu Entertainment has taken two of his mentees to America to participate in the inaugural SXSW festival. On top of this, they’ve held three free events while they’re here to interact more intimately with their audiences. As a seminal figure in the Mandarin hip hop scene, Dwagie’s work has taken him across all kinds of societal topics including political commentary and stray animals. In his eventful career he has also worked with global rap greats such as the Dalai Lama, Nas, and Wutang’s Raekwon.