The adventures of rap musicians in a totalitarian world of the future.
The Chinese hip hop boom did not pass unnoticed by the country’s authorities. The Communist Party issued a series of decrees that forced local rappers underground. Nobody knows what exactly is banned, and that is the main problem: in a culture where laws are unclear but strictly obeyed, people start censoring themselves. Many rappers have decided to quit to be on the safe side.
Dutch filmmaker David Verbeek’s short follows a group of rappers in Chongqing—one of the country’s biggest cities—a futuristic world constantly under surveillance via thousands of CCTV cameras. Lil Ya, Master Da, and Ghostism can no longer play gigs, but they rap, shoot videos, go to illegal parties, get tattoos, and talk about being trapped in “the city of a thousand mountains” that used to inspire poets. In Chongqing, hip hop culture thrives at night, and during the day it gives way to an Orwellian world of slogans like “Let us lead the path to an ecological civilization of production and wellbeing.” The contrast is frightening, but, like his protagonists, Verbeek wants to be optimistic: China might not be a society of freedom, but hip hop could be a game changer.