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UPSETTING DAY

Upsetting Day: The CCP Rap 🌭

The birth, sterilization, and death of slang is a fun cycle. According to my staff, “banger” has about two weeks left. I’m proud to bring you the last banger.

Wait, what’s that at the bottom?

I’m in.

Hip-hop and government go together like ice cream and rat poison: perfectly. My party playlist has two songs. The first is Streyer campaign anthem “Back Dat Azz Up,” a drowning candidate’s call to black lifeguards. If courting black voters with a twerk anthem sounds like a bad idea, you missed the peak of history. Juvenile rang in the American Empire’s retirement. The other song is “The Trailblazer,” which celebrates the job opening.

Granted, I’m as biased as any Amnesty International donor. I’m still on a list for telling Dick Cheney to go hunting alone. So I’ll let CGTN introduce their work:

You might not be familiar with CGTN, since it’s banned in touchier countries. It’s a great channel for human interest stories and forced confessions. As an apocalypse junkie, finding a CGTN rap video is like combining Christmas and labor camp parole into one holiday.

First, note the gentle offer to install a state media app on your personal device. Privacy isn’t the issue– domestic tycoons harvested your SSN, nudes, and blood type ten years ago. We’re all ants on the world stage, beneath the notice of the giants wrestling overhead. But now you’re on an NSA list titled “Dangerous Morons.” You’ll never get another job more important than scarecrow.

The copy marries cutesy marketing and ultranationalism. I’ll never find “meteoric rise” and “groove to the beat” in the same sentence again. Alone, marketing drones would say “Bored? Check out this fire command economics bop!” Alone, ultranationalists would say “你們的时代已結束了,汉堡瘾君子們。你們现在變成杰克斯派洛电影的工厂。”* Together, they say we’re in for an amazing time.

*Your time is over, burger addicts. You are now a factory for Jack Sparrow films.

That said, the title gets a rose. “The Trailblazer” is killer branding. Difficult to promote in 32 second-language bars, but it has the right tone. Fans and critics of single-party surveillance states agree on one thing: it’s where we’re all headed. Let’s meet our stars:

Our first state poet is Forster Asare-Yeboah, a Ghana-born, U.K.-raised, Chengdu-enriched rapper. He’s internet-famous enough for 1.8 million Weibo followers, and normal-famous enough to rap in clubs. If that makes his presence here confusing, your soul is intact. Flee these benighted lands and return on Punching Day.

Forster’s the black part of our “Sino-African rap song,” and way too mediocre for propaganda. You should be either too inept to take seriously (Rambo III) or too majestic to reject (Rambo: First Blood Part II). The American Sniper zone is dangerous. Audiences start asking which wars were officially declared, and what uranium cake was imaginary. You’ll never see a C+ Saudi drama about Jamal Khashoggi.

As you’ll soon see, free education is the luckiest card Forster could have drawn. It’s a natural 20. “There were less schools, and now there are more” requires zero spin or disappearing actresses. So it’s odd that he whiffs it. I’ve heard more energetic eulogies. Forster makes the most absolute truth in this song sound like bullshit, before losing interest and skimming over surveillance-friendly tech.

As for motive, I get it. Forster likes life with a pool and without a cellmate. I’d cheerlead most despots for a PS4. That’s not a typo, I want to replay Bloodborne.

On to The Trailblazer’s thesis:

I love “China Made It” on three levels. It’s not a total reversal, so it feels incomplete. I end up staring at the phrase like a punchline without a setup or nouns. It’s also a comeback to a dead joke, ten years too late to parry blonde pundits. We know that subpar imports start with nonexistent American budgets. Finally, it treats total manufacturing dominance like an old shame. Imagine a defiant German freestyle called “Printing Press These Nuts.”

The delivery here’s extra stilted, which fits a pet theory of mine. It’s pure conjecture, but I’m fucking right. There’s a lyrical quirk you’ll often find among low-tier black rappers on clean songs: awkward two-beat pauses or ad-libs. That’s withdrawal from using rap’s favorite filler.

It pops up here. Call me a madman. But somewhere on a CGTN hard drive, “The Trailblazer: Drill Mix” exists. When they release it, the future is theirs.

I’ve waited thirty years for this moment. The exact second the word “hater” entered international relations. There’s no undoing this. The seal is broken. Before the first bomb falls, an Indian diplomat will call a Pakistani general a dickrider. The CIA will contest the authenticity of Putin’s shoes. Mauritania will tell the world to “emancipate some bitches.”

Don’t fight the spiral. Embrace it. President Curtis Jackson III is the right man to lead us into the new world. Diss diplomacy can’t be stopped, but it can be perfected. A man that won’t stop tormenting Ja Rule won’t stop fighting for you.

Enough of the first verse. That’s not why I’m here.

In 1999, Forgot About Dre introduced Eminem to black people, creating a crossover star. The Trailblazer does that for Saina, the world’s best propaganda rapper named Saina. We are living in her moment.

Listing ethnicity after every name is odd, but I’m sure that won’t matter later. We’re here for 16 bars of party dominance.

Breathe it in. Figuratively, especially if you’re in Beijing. Meet our generation’s Nas.

This woman is my fucking hero. She raps the way a twelve-year-old heelflips off a roof. You know she’ll shatter every bone in her body, and so does she. It changes nothing. She doesn’t give a shit. She has three seconds of midair footage before losing both knees forever, and she’s milking all of them.

Look into her eyes. I don’t have the social skills to tell you if she believes in this message. But she’s burning life force to sell it. The Minitrue agent directing asked her to take it down to twelve, and she called him a traitor. If Saina isn’t promoted to Head Rap Inquisitor, there’s no justice in the Jinping administration.

Why does she suck? Does she know she sucks? These are the questions of a hater. The party is creating a utopia where all bars have value. In The People’s Source, every album is Food & Liquor.

Take notes, Forster. That’s the electric enthusiasm I want to see when you lie to my face.

I’m sitting in Mother Nature’s greatest enemy, writing about her second greatest enemy. Quick question for everyone outside the arms race: when an American or Chinese outlet mentions climate change, do you want to choke us with our own plastic? It’s the old Eric Andre joke, only Hannibal Buress is “every island nation.”

Because of my backwards hater education, I’d worry about what historians would say. Saina knows there won’t be any. That lets her throw every ounce of nontalent in her body into each line.

Though I do wonder where a state media channel found a rap genius. Did they black-bag someone at a karaoke bar, or recruit internally?

I forgot that Hotdog jokes warp reality. Let’s try a little harder: It’d be hilarious if she did uncensored rap covers on her personal channel.

I’m definitely using this power for evil. My next article’s about the gut-busting time an overeducated shitposter became president, saved the biosphere, and reignited a lost love. And then Saina rapped about it. 

The cover is perfection itself, by the way. Like Tyshawn Jones, she throws her whole body into it and drops n-bombs at will. She’s also a fan of Saweetie, which she saves for the real heads on Facebook:

Those lyrics require a certain presence. Namely “Not Saina.” She delivers “Low carbon China is real” and “slide over my panties” with the same blank energy. And yes, the bombs keep falling:

I complain, but I love this era. Think of all the visionaries that made a Chinese reporter dropping American slurs for international paypigs possible. Archimedes. Cai Lun. Alan Turing. Saweetie. Shame about the Arctic, but this is an age of miracles.

Nothing could ruin this channel for me, except a propaganda tour through Xinjiang or WAIT NO FUCK–

That’s enough. Let’s get this under control. Otherwise we’ll end up with an Uyghur rapper blinking “torture” at the camera. I refuse to speak that evil into the garden of reality.

They wouldn’t. No one has the balls.

I’m back in. Let’s go to hell together, Sardar.

Our state-sponsored rap group has a confident mumbler and a loud lunatic. Meaning it’s time for a propaganda technician. That’s right, Sardar knows you’re allowed to rhyme two syllables. Strap in for the GZA of ethnic cleansing.

Oh man.

Lyrical spiritual miracles thrive with twisty language, engaging flows, and a hardcore antiestablishment ethos. This is a half-speed Dr. Seuss audiobook about loving the government. I’m glad he knows assonance exists, but rapwashing your own genocide needs a flow switch or two. Even the most Xanax’d preteen on BandCamp can churn out triplets. You have to go harder to convince me the cameraman’s unarmed.

Maybe I’m biased. Let’s try the Socratic method: Sardar, can nothing in Xinjiang stop anyone from being who they want to be? At this moment? In every U.N. report? Good propaganda appeals to and redirects reason. Bluntly saying two and two equal five leads to marching and aerodynamic bricks.

Maybe I should go easy on Sardar. When you’re invited to record a propaganda rap, the only answers are “I’d love to” and “Sic Semper Tyrannis.” Like Forster, he simply wants to eat nice food with solid fingers. But there’s an old French word for enablers of a purge: fuckface.

Beyond the body bags in the background? These lines still suck. “Benefits from new policy” tastes like boot in every genre. Gojira could scream it backwards in 4/11 time and my brain would still reject it. 

If you pay attention, “The Trailblazer” has a few first draft mistakes. They’re tucked in the margins of the lyrics, beat production, shot selection, video editing, ethnic labels, the credits only listing Saina, leaving the comments open to American trolls, and concept. That’s the beauty of this genre: OpressionCore upgrades bugs from features to homegrown innovations. The Censorate is a lifetime appointment for fuckups.

Imagine revision in a propaganda studio. You can’t tell your manager “Fun idea, but the best rapper sounds like Ice Spice’s hostage tape. I know we flanked her with fluent English speakers, but what they have in adverbs they lose in corpse-like dispassion and youth ministry flow.” You’ll do the reshoots in a labor camp, with your race on the corner of the screen.

Editing matters. Backspace separates 2002 and 2022 Rowling. My drafts are half Gundam jokes before my shock collar goes off. Worse yet, this track review had three pages about my dad. Thanks to revision, that love of authority is now graceful subtext.

Treasure your delete key. It’s a privilege, like your former Miranda Rights.

Shoutout to the party for letting me groove to the beat of their meteoric rise in street cred. Not that they needed it. Nothing’s more authentic than wanton violence, and the sterilization of Xinjiang Muslims is still–

image credit: Mo & Robots

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: Sarcophski, who to our knowledge has almost never rapped propaganda for an authoritarian regime.