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In3: Beijing’s Hip Hop Pioneers

Since hip hop blew up in China 10 years ago, Beijing has seen an explosion of home-grown rap groups. And In3 is one of the best.

04·16·2012

In3: Beijing’s Hip Hop Pioneers

Since hip hop blew up in China 10 years ago, Beijing has seen an explosion of home-grown rap groups. And In3 is one of the best.

04·16·2012

If you thought 90s-era AZN pride hit “Got Rice Bitch” or MC Jin’s “Y’all Gonna Learn Chinese” were the end-all be-all of Chinese hip hop, it’s time to update your playlist. While hip-hop remains largely off the mainstream radar, the scene has been growing since the early 00’s when foreign imports like the Eminem movie “8 Mile” popularized the notion of freestyling. The first Iron Mic competition, the country’s biggest annual rap battle, began in 2001, bringing the artistry of Chinese hip-hop to a new level.

Among the leaders of China’s burgeoning underground hip hop scene is 阴三儿 (Yīnsānr), otherwise known as In3. After starting up in 2006, the Beijing trio quickly made a name for themselves with hilarious, vulgar lyrics packed with Beijing slang, and centered on everyday life in China.

They also broke new ground stylistically—in contrast to many of their peers, who modeled their songs after American-style hip-hop, In3 pioneered a new style based on traditional Beijing shuochang (说唱), a form of traditional Chinese storytelling or “story singing.” Check out their 2008 self-release, “Unknown Artist” (《未知艺术家》) or listen to their tracks on their Douban page.

Below, you can watch a captioned version of their song “老师你好,” (“Hello Teacher”) a caustic indictment of cruel teachers. Skip to 1:40 for the beginning of the song.