Friday Song: The jazz and hip-hop of Dabozz - SupChina

Friday Song: The jazz and hip-hop of Dabozz

She’s alternative, free-spirited, and unpredictable.

In 2016, Dabozz 大包子 resigned from her job at a state-owned financial institution to pursue music as a full-time career. Less than a year and a half later, she’s making waves in the music scenes of China’s major cities.

One of her first songs after her career switch is “Jazz,” an experimental fusion of jazz, hip-hop, and rap, which layers both Chinese and English lyrics. It’s a song that perhaps best showcases her core traits and the direction of her influence on the Chinese music scene. She is exploring relatively new ground: the three genres are still quite new to China, and the lyrics, with the many mentions of jazz greats, gives the sense that this song has a pedagogic purpose for her Chinese audience. But also embedded in her lyrics, such as, “But we know that jazz is freedom’s soul” (“但我们知道 爵士是自由的灵魂” dàn wǒmen zhīdào juéshì shì zìyóu de línghún), is a strong sense of her passion for music and her wish to make her mark on it; one could assume this is a driving reason behind Dabozz’s decision to devote her life to music.

But even though she may be sure of her decision to make a career change, there is still much more exploration of the unknown to do. A mark of her independence, in 2017, Dabozz declared, “I know this year is the year of hip-hop, but I suddenly don’t want to do hip-hop. I will do music that I am more interested in now.”

One gets the sense that Dabozz has not settled — and perhaps never will. But that is exactly why she is such an interesting emerging artist to watch.

Lyrics:

失落的壹天他灰头土脸
A lost day, he felt dejected
但必须在人前保持冷静和体面
But kept a face of calm and dignity in front of others
早就过了靠尖叫发泄的年纪
The age of venting and screaming had long passed
也懒得去酒吧邂逅廉价的艳遇
And too lazy to hit the bars for a cheap romance

这时候 all we need is some music
At this time, all we need is some music
Jazz’s played on, 细胞被唤醒
Jazz’s played on, it rouses the cells
它播放壹张 — Miles Davis “Birth of the Cool” with Gil Evans
It transmits and spreads out — Miles Davis “Birth of the Cool” with Gil Evans
Piano and trumpet 吸进去都是惬意跳动的空气
Piano and trumpet, inhaled, are the pulsating air.
烫的咖啡 被冷爵士调的适口
Scalding coffee is made palatable by cool jazz
Relax and chill 这只是爵士的壹种
Relax and chill, this is the only kind of jazz

爵士乐的诱惑 妳咽下了唾沫
You swallowed the temptation of jazz
此刻 被浓厚的韵律包裹
At this moment, it is wrapped in a thick rhythm
这音乐 算不上 多大的心灵撞击
You can’t say this music much strikes the soul
却是壹种迷醉的叛逆
But is a kind of intoxicating rebellion

妳选择 当烟雾缭绕 听Armstrong的嚎叫
You choose to listen to Armstrong’s howl while the smoke lingers
或把悲伤浸在Holiday的歌里发酵
Or dip into the sorrowful songs of Holiday
Chet Baker沉郁浪漫的腔调
Chet Baker’s gloomy and romantic tune
Stan Getz鲜活的挣扎与调笑
Stan Getz’s lively struggle and teasing

Ornette Coleman奇 异 的美感
Ornette Coleman’s bizarre beauty
Albert Ayler实验的版块
Albert Ayler’s experimental forum
Norah Jones唱得很慵懒
Norah Jones sings lethargically
John Coltrane 让人敬畏汹涌澎湃
John Coltrane is awed

妳选择退后releases your soul
Your choice to retreat releases your soul
Big band在演奏 – 妳跟着节奏 晃着头
The Big Band is playing — you must follow the rhythm
或者清醒地欣赏 忽明忽暗的即兴 乐手的灵感 石破天惊
Or soberly appreciate the inspiration of the impromptu musicians
Ragtime blues are the roots
New Orleans, Dixieland, Chicago,
Bebop, hardbop, swing cool
Fusion, modern, free loft and more
Fusion, modern, free loft and more

这就是爵士 让妳灵魂出窍
This is jazz, let your soul emerge
迷惑复杂的节拍 难以确定的调
Confusing and complicated rhythms, an uncertain tune
这就是爵士 自由著重复着变化着 把妳拉出皮囊 到无限的空间游荡
This is jazz, free to repeat the changes and pull you out to wander in unlimited space
This is jazz, it belongs to night, the second name’s black, let’s take a nightfly
This is jazz, it rises and falls, runs in the fog, finds new roads and then lost
This is jazz, it rises and falls, runs in the fog, finds new roads and then lost

理性和迷幻互相投降 几个休止的转换
Rationality and psychedelism surrender to each other
几个休止的转换
Several ceasing transformations
人间天堂
Heaven on earth
衣冠楚楚的人用它来制造某种气氛
A well-dressed man uses it to create a certain atmosphere,
高级的情调
a high-level atmosphere.
不落俗的品味象征
A symbol of unconventional taste.

但我们知道 爵士是自由的灵魂
But we know that jazz is the freedom of the soul
不做音符的匠人 不靠惯性生存
Artisans who do not make notes do not rely on inertia to survive
它起源于堕落 在醉生梦死里壮硕
It originated from deprivation, in the dream of death
黑人的情感 人间冷暖 欲望和解脱
The emotions of black people, the cold and warmth of the world, desire and freedom
听着爵士 不用解说
Listen to jazz, explanation unnecessary
壹百种情绪 直击心窝
A hundred different emotions hit the heart
它是幻觉 它是辆列车 它是深不见底不可预知的漩涡
It’s hallucinations. It’s a train. It’s a bottomless, unpredictable vortex.

爵士已经把我 想要的世界收藏
Jazz has already collected the world I want
关于灵性和迷茫 瞬间和碰撞
About spirituality and confusion, moments and collisions
说真的 语言不能描述它的摸样
Truthfully speaking, language can’t describe its appearance
艾灵顿说,爵士乐就是梦想!
Ellington said that jazz is a dream!


Friday Song is SupChina’s weekly sign-off. Let us know what you thought of the week that was in the comments below, or email [email protected]

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Jemima Barr

Jemima Barr hails from England but has lived in Hong Kong, Hangzhou, and (currently) Beijing. She is doing an internship at SupChina before she starts her undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge in Autumn 2018.

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