Friday Song: ‘Your So-Called Freedom and Democracy’

Society & Culture

“Bombard the Headquarters,” or 炮打司令部 (pào dǎ sī lìng bù), was a document written by Chairman Mao Zedong during a Chinese Communist Party plenary session on August 5, 1966. Only 225 characters, this document is believed to have sent the country into turmoil, leading to the death of thousands of “class enemies” over the course of the Cultural Revolution.

The album Bombard the Headquarters, by Zhong Xiangyu 钟翔宇, an American Taiwanese rapper who studied politics, has endowed this classic political phrase with an artsy undertone. The song embedded above, “Your So-Called Freedom and Democracy” (你所謂的自由民主 nǐ suǒwèi de zìyóu mínzhǔ), is about Zhong’s dissatisfaction with the hypocritical brand of democracy as practiced by the United States. The lyrics criticize U.S. operations in Afghanistan and other developing countries in the name of “freedom” and promoting “democracy,” when in fact this “so-called democracy” is just a game played by capitalists.

Zhong was doing independent studies at the time he created this album. According to his Bandcamp page: “Unlike idealists, he does not believe that music itself is capable of changing the world, but his music is nonetheless an attempt to create something that reflects ordinary people while drawing inspiration from the revolutionary masses.” One of the reasons Xiangyu supports Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, according to the YouTube description on his song, is because he believes the responsibility of “liberating Taiwan” should fall upon the people instead of the political elite.

Zhong is a self-styled artist and “red rapper” who strongly endorses Marxism-Leninism-Maoism ideologies (though not necessarily the Communist Party of China). The combination of politics and hip-hop — outside of some cringeworthy propaganda from state media, that is — is still pretty unique in China. And what better way to start your pre-July 4th weekend than with an album dissing “Your So-Called Freedom and Democracy”?

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