Zai Beijing by Yin Tsang (隐藏)

After some searching I finally found the song featured in the NY Times video in my last post. Its catchy beat turns out to be a looped sample from an erhu, a Chinese musical instrument I remember writing a report about in Chinese school as a kid.

Yin Ts'ang's first hit was “In Beijing,” from the band's 2003 debut album, “Serve the People” (Scream Records); the title is a twist on an old political slogan. It sets a melody played on a thousand-year-old Chinese fiddle called the 'Erhu' against a hip-hop beat that brings Run D.M.C. to mind. The song, an insider's look at Beijing's sights and sounds, took the underground music scene by storm, finding its way into karaoke parlours, the Internet and even the playlist of a radio station in Beijing.


Some Chinese rappers address what they see as the country's most glaring injustices. As Wong Li, a 24-year-old from Dongbei, says in one of his freestyle raps:

“Don’t you know China is only a heaven for rich old men
You know this world is full of corruption
Babies die from drinking milk..."

Wong, who became interested in hip-hop when he heard Public Enemy in the mid-'90s, said rapping helps him deal with bitterness that comes with realising he is one of the millions left out of China's economic boom.

“All people care about is money,” he said. “If you don't have money, you're treated like garbage. And if you're not local to the city you live in, people discriminate against you; they give you the worst jobs to do.”

Read more about the group at

Yin Tsang is also has a myspace page.