Chinese New Year — a time of prosperity, reunions and very, very overplayed CNY music. Of course, these songs do a wonderful job setting the mood and atmosphere of the traditional annual proceedings. Still, there’s only so many Gong (鑼) and Dizi (笛子) backed songs one can take before they all become indistinguishable from one another.
So, I’ve taken the liberty of gathering 5 rap songs to make your Chinese New Year experience decidedly more contemporary that doubles as attempts to convert your relatives into Gucci-slanging, snapback wearing hypebeasts.
Welcome the Year of the Pig in style.
Higher Brothers – “Gong Xi Fa Cai”
The song that inspired this very article. You can’t have a CNY song list without one that just embraces the concept of ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’. Revolving around the idea of wishing prosperity onto those around you, Higher Brothers take it one step further by flexing on you that they have loads of cash while wishing you could get on their level. How genuinely thoughtful of them.
Vava – “My New Swag (feat. Ty. & Nina Wang)”
Of course, it’s tradition to dress yourself up in new clothes while ringing in the new year. And if you’re already doing so, might as well drench yourself in the latest streetwear and merchandise just to flex on your 90-year old grandma. Yet you can only dream of looking as fly as Vava does here.
The song also features some killer traditional Chinese instrument-backed production, so you know your grandma’s going to love it anyway.
Ko Wen-je (the ACTUAL mayor of Taipei) – “Do Things Right (feat. Chunyan)”
Once your relatives start shouting in your face to ‘turn that shit off’ and that rap music is only for youngsters, just play them this song and watch them try to take their foot out of their mouths. 50-year old(!) Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je decided to drop this trap song, out of the blue, in order to get young people to be involved with politics. If a mayor is willing to embrace modern trends to get in touch with the youth, it shouldn’t be too difficult for your elders to do so either.
So do the right thing and recommend this song to your uncle and aunties. Plus this song is hard as hell and if you don’t think so, you’re 怪怪的.
Ty. – “書沒讀好 (Suck at studying)”
At every gathering, there’s always the dreaded comparisons between you and your cousins – be it between your grades, careers or choice of boyfriend/girlfriend. Competition (or perhaps rivalry is the better term) is firmly rooted within Chinese culture. It’s an inescapable aspect that’s just accepted at this point.
So when your mom asks why your half-Korean cousin has outperformed you in school for the 5th straight year in a row, you show her this track. Not everyone is cut out for school and this track can be solid proof of that. You may be dumb, but at least you’re a dumb-dumb with good taste in music.
Angel Mo (莫安琪) – “SLOW IT DOWN”
If there’s one question that every single person has to hear to CNY, it’s: “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?”
It’s awkward enough when a relative you haven’t seen in a whole year asks you this, but the existential anxiety that comes with it is just an. Absolute. Ball. Of. JOY! Still, if you’re looking for an excuse to deflect the question (or just a reason to curve a dude/gal), Angel Mo has you covered.
Just don’t go out of your way to announce you’re sad and lonely while sitting by the mahjong table. That’s no fun at all.
BONUS: MC Jin – “Learn Chinese”
Unfortunately, even equipped with all the fire tracks above, you still can’t make anyone’s CNY considerably more lit if you don’t speak a lick of Chinese. It’s right there in the name – Chinese New Year. So get in touch with your roots and learn the language. A whole new world will open up, and then you’ll finally get to sit at the adults’ table and listen in on your family’s scalding hot tea.