Sat, Feb 20, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Rapper says New Year's songs out of touch with culture

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Lunar New Year rap written by Malaysian rapper Namewee (黃明志), or Wee Meng Chee, that criticizes “old-fashioned” Lunar New Year songs has become an online hit and struck a chord with Internet users in Malaysia and Taiwan.

In a music video created by Wee to accompany the song CNY Song by Namewee, a man in a traditional red Chinese top appears and sings a traditional Lunar New Year song.

However, he is interrupted when Wee walks in and begins to rap that the lyrics are old-fashioned and don't make sense.

“Why are you singing about winter and spring? You think I'm stupid? Other than rain, it's intolerably hot here everyday,” Wee raps. “Hasn't your teacher taught you, there's only one season called summer in Malaysia?”

When the man goes on to sing about firecrackers, Wee interrupts him again, saying the lyrics are wrong because firecrackers are illegal in Malaysia.

“You can sing a Lunar New Year song about your own culture, not just sing whatever comes out of China,” Wee raps. “You've been living here for such a long time, and you still don't know how to localize?”

Since Wee uploaded the video onto his own YouTube channel two weeks ago, the video has received more than 170,000 hits.

Explaining the idea behind the song, Wee said he could understand that some ethnic Chinese in Malaysia still harbor memories of winter snow and firecrackers at Lunar New Year.

“But how could the new generation [of Chinese Malaysians] accept the copying of a culture that is different from the local culture?” he asked. “Only New Year songs that reflect reality can be considered progressive and localized New Year songs.”

“Very well said. It's really annoying to listen to the same songs over and over every year,” a YouTube member from Taiwan “jamie842226” commented.

“Takayuki” wrote in Plurk.com that she agreed with Wee about including local elements.

“It's just like us singing ‘plum blossoms everywhere,’ but actually, lilies and azaleas are more common in Taiwan,” she said.

The song Plum Blossom that Takayuki mentioned is a patriotic song from China brought to Taiwan by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime in 1949.

Another Plurker, Jiehmei, supported Wee’s localization call.

“It's something we need to think about in the age of globalization, especially when faced with Chinese imperialism,” she said.

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