Kris Wu, amid sales controversy, finds peace in ‘Tian Di’ - SupChina

Kris Wu, amid sales controversy, finds peace in ‘Tian Di’

In “Tian Di,” Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu 吴亦凡 (Wú Yìfán) finds peace amid his hectic life through tradition. He explores nature, drinks tea, and has a conversation with an elderly man in an effort to break away from the pressures his fame has brought him, all while rapping about overcoming hate, which he says constantly gets in his way. In many ways, “Tian Di” sounds like another rap song about overcoming obstacles and ignoring negative influences, but Wu’s proximity to Chinese culture makes this tune very much his own.

Kris Wu first rose to popularity as a member of the Korean-Chinese boy band EXO. In 2014, he left the group to focus on his solo career. Since then, Wu has become an incredibly popular figure in pop culture both within China and internationally. But just like the case for most ubiquitous figures, Wu has often found himself on the receiving end of a lot of animosity. Earlier this year, Wu found himself in the middle of a heated debate between his fans and the users of Hupu, a sports forum, after one user implied that the pop star couldn’t sing. He also attracted attention in the West earlier this month when, allegedly, fraudulent sales drove his songs to the top of iTunes’ Top 10 songs chart.

This kind of hate is what inspires Wu in “Tian Di.” He states:

江湖人说我不行
Everyone said I wasn’t enough

古人说路遥知马力
Our ancestors said the road tests the horse

陪我走陪我闯天地
Walk with me, come with me as I battle heaven and earth

我从不将就我的命运
I won’t submit to my fate

With the power of words, Wu finds the strength to outwit his enemies and defy the conventional wisdom of his ancestors. And judging by the music video, you can tell that Wu, very much a product of the 21st century, won’t be forgetting the traditions of his past, either.


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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Elena Hubbell

Elena Hubbell is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she majored in Chinese Studies and Literature. She has lived and studied in Nanjing and Beijing, and currently lives and works in Detroit, Michigan. When not reading or working, Elena is trying to figure out the best recipe for home-cooked Zha Jiang Mian.

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