December 10th, 2009

MC Yan in the Street

Posted in Asia Pacific, Music, Politics, Public Space, Society and Culture, Video by Christopher DeWolf

Last week, I posted a video by Thomas Lee in which he asked passers-by on Sai Yeung Choi Street where they would go if they could open a door to anywhere. Now he’s back with another great video, this time a (well-subtitled) Cantonese-language rap by MC Yan, whom you might remember as the founder of Radio Dada and one of the first Chinese rappers.

I helped produce this video (though I can’t claim much credit — after introducing him to MC Yan and participating in a brainstorming session, nearly all of the work was done by Thomas). What struck me from the beginning was how passionate MC Yan is about Hong Kong, despite the cynicism that defines his lyrics. He’s genuinely fascinated by this place, rooted to it not only by birth but by a desire to improve it, and the way he expresses that is through unrelenting criticism of Hong Kong’s government and leaders.

In the video, he takes us on a tour of three important parts of Hong Kong — Causeway Bay, Central and West Kowloon — drawing inspiration from the social, political and cultural geography of each.


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One comment

  1. Christopher Szabla says:

    I don’t really know the details about the new arts complex in Hong Kong, but while his skepticism about the corrupting influence of money on art is well-taken in general, the arts really do tend to flourish where there’s money and institutions to support them. The presence of a deep-pocketed patronage was key in Renaissance Florence, and modern Berlin isn’t just an arts mecca because it has cheap rents; it also has a doubling up of institutions that pay artists due to cultural competition between the two halves of the city during the Cold War. And New York is still attractive for artists despite its expense because of the number of opportunities for them to work in their field full time.

    December 15th, 2009 at 1:07 am