When Wang Hao 王昊, a.k.a. PG One, one of China’s best-known rappers and probably its most controversial, mysteriously deleted all of his Sina Weibo posts on April 21, a few days before his birthday, and changed his profile picture to a boy version of himself, we had every reason to believe he was up to something.
And so it was that today, April 24 — his birthday — the rapper made a low-key comeback to social media by posting a confessional article, vowing to “always run in a good direction” and “go forward with supporters on the road of positivity.”
The post, however, lasted only for a few hours before Sina Weibo scrubbed it according to “relevant laws and regulations.”
For what it’s worth, there was nothing particularly sensitive about the post content, as he talks about finding equilibrium and persevering. But PG One has run afoul of authorities before and might still be paying for it. He made headlines earlier this year when he was denounced by the Communist Youth League and some state media for his vulgar lyrics glorifying drug and sex. Then he became embroiled in an affair with the married actress Li Xiaolu 李小璐. Authorities forced the rapper to take down his songs from all streaming service platforms. Soon after, he vanished from the public’s eyes.
Meanwhile, during his absence from showbiz, China issued regulations to ban hip-hop artists from appearing on TV shows.
Given the context, PG One’s return post might have been a desperate attempt to salvage his career, despite how under attack the entire hip-hop industry feels in China. In the article, the rapper said that he had gone through “a period of confusion” and “had so many questions to ask” but didn’t know if he would ever acquire answers.
The studio behind PG One appeared to undergo an image rehab as well. In a now-censored post on its official Weibo account, the studio shared PG One’s article and wrote, “When the public adds value to you, the influence you have should accordingly lead you to a positive place. As our sense of mission and social responsibility integrate into our self-values, we look forward to the future.”
At the time of writing, both PG One’s and the studio’s Weibo accounts have became void again, likely not of their own volition.
But there’s some good news for PG One abroad. To celebrate his birthday, his fans rented a giant digital billboard in Times Square, New York, and described the rapper as “the last devil.” Not a bad way to turn 24.