Stranger in the North — which has been viewed 102 million times on YouTube — is a collaboration between Malaysian rapper Namewee and Taiwanese-American Mandopop megastar Wang Leehom 王力宏, and it is the ultimate anthem of the migrant worker. It tells the story of a “Beijing drifter” — 北飘 běipiāo — who finds alienation and sorrow, disappointment and anxiety at every turn in a city far from his southern home. (At least he’s not facing eviction.) Even so, he perseveres, determined to make a name for himself in the capital. Yet Wang’s voice, unflinching as it may be, carries a reality bare as a winter tree, harsh as wind: Gloom, which he “carries on his shoulders,” is a fact of life for dreamers like him. Perhaps so is anger, which is obvious in Namewee’s rap: “Standing here under the feet of heaven, I’m stamped breathless.” Perhaps, also, defeat.
None of these themes of frustration and despair are in S.white’s drum rendition, above. She is pure joy.
A street performer in Taipei, S.white — real name Luo Xiaobai 罗小白 — has more than 1 million likes on her Facebook page, so I dare surmise she’s not exactly unknown. And yet, I don’t know much about her — and I’m not sure I need to. Here she is breaking her drum stick and barely missing a beat:
What more do we need to say? She’s kind of awesome, as is this song. Go listen to it a hundred times, then join us on the other side of the weekend. Gloom and the possibility of loss are necessary conditions for the existence of hope. Great things are ahead.