Friday song: Vava, queen of Chinese hip-hop, demands ‘look at me’ on Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack - SupChina

Friday song: Vava, queen of Chinese hip-hop, demands ‘look at me’ on Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack

From its first line, you know exactly what Vava’s hit song, “My New Swag” (我的新衣 wǒ de xīn yī), is all about. That’s because it’s in English — “look at me” — followed by a rapid-fire verse rapped so passionately and proudly that you don’t need to know Chinese to understand its message.

This is Vava, and she demands your attention.

With this much attitude and impeccable delivery, I can understand why she has been dubbed the “Rihanna of China” by some media outlets. I can understand the comparison even more after listening to some of Vava’s other songs, such as “People on the Move.”

But “My New Swag” is all Vava — a proud, energetic, and inventive young artist, effortlessly blending her American hip-hop inspiration and Chinese musical influences in exciting new ways. That’s why it’s a perfect fit for the Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack, particularly for the scene where it’s used — when the wide-eyed but confident main character gets dressed up to see her boyfriend’s crazy rich family for the first time.

Vava became the most famous female rapper in China upon making the final four of last season’s The Rap of China, and was recently dubbed “China’s hip-hop queen” by the South China Morning Post. And while Amy Qin at the New York Times writes that Crazy Rich Asians appears to be too Americanized to be widely appealing in China, the music of Chinese rappers like Vava is “at least one area of cultural exchange that seems to be resonating with both mainland Chinese and the diaspora population in North America.”

The music video for the song is gorgeous and fitting, showing all the color and personality that Vava deserves — take a look:

vava 2

The video’s opening scene includes two Peking Opera performers in an elaborate setting.

vava 3

Like other Chinese rappers, Vava interjects English phrases into her verses — though less so in “My New Swag” than other tracks on her debut album, 21, released in October 2017.

vava 5

Ty, a Chengdu-based rapper like Vava, joins in for a verse in his local dialect.

vava 7

Rapping to a camel, because why not.

vava 9

Yeah, she’s the queen.

vava 11

Peking Opera-inspired visuals, as well as music, are interspersed throughout the song.

VAVA GIF

The lyrics for “My New Swag” can be found in Chinese here, and here is a good translation to English.


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]

Share
Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.