Dispatches From Xinjiang: Uyghur Hip-Hop As Folk Music

Six City and Uyghur rap
Adil Mijit is not the only Uyghur comedian to incorporate a discussion of hip-hop into his performances. In the recent state-sponsored film Shewket’s Summer, directed by Pan Yu with assistance from Beijing Film Academy students, Abdukerim Abliz joins the Uyghur hip-hop crew Six City as a reticent folk musician. The film, which is both a “coming-of-age” and “parent-trap” melodrama, highlights the way conflicts resolved at the level of the family have larger implications for society.

C4, Ep.89: Christmas Is A Time For Holidays

C4, Ep89
Today on C4: Making sense of the holiday schedule. Alternatively: this is what sick people at work look like. Probably the worst episode yet!

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The Animated Feature Everyone Wants To See

Big Fish & Chinese Flowering Crabapple featured image
It’s not every day that a Chinese animated film manages to secure more than 1 million yuan in funding. It’s even rarer that that money comes from the crowd. But 3,596 backers saw promise in Big Fish & Chinese Flowering Crabapple, a new film by Liang Xuan. Enough promise that they donated 1.58 million yuan over 45 days on Demohour. It now holds the title of China’s most successful crowd-funded project to date.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Sufi Poetry And The Uyghur Justin Bieber

Sufi Poetry and the Uyghur Justin Beiber 2
The Uyghur-language songs of teen heartthrob Ablajan Awut Ayup run on a loop through the heads of many Uyghur tweens and young urbanites. Taking cues from Justin Bieber, the ever-popular dance moves of the late-Michael Jackson, and the pretty-gangster affect of Korean pop stars, Ablajan is a self-styled chart-climber; he is a self-made song-and-dance man. Whether you love him or hate him, the fact remains that he has cornered the Uyghur children’s music market by tying clever songwriting with catchy beats.

Saturday Night Musical Outro: Fuzzy Mood

The Sound Stage - Fuzzy Logic
A high-tech research lab is probably the last place you think you'd find a rock 'n' roll genius, but Fuzzy Mood is all the proof you need. Distilling mathematical theories into musical layman's terms, this band will definitely put you into a better mood - with science!

C4, Ep.87: Poking Fun With Jade Rabbits

C4, Ep.87
Today on C4: China goes for bronze with a soft moon landing attempt. Plus, this: Stuart: "Chang'e, by the way, is the goddess of the moon... and the shuttle is her Jade Rabbit." Rob: "Her Jade Rabbit, I bet she has a lot of fun with that, doesn't she?"

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Where’s Snowden? An Illustration By Josh Cochran

Where's Snowden? featured image
Illustrator Josh Cochran posted the following, a veritable visual crossword highlighting the year in pop culture, two weeks ago on his Tumblr. The artist has generously allowed us to republish the image, on which we'll highlight two China-related elements: Edward Snowden ("there are 10 Edward Snowdens here," Cochran writes; see how many you can find), and the sharks. We really hope it's an allusion to this shark story from Shanghai.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Silk Road Of Pop, Reviewed

The Silk Road of Pop featured image (smaller)
The Silk Road of Pop (2013: 53 min) ends with a young rapper saying he wants the world to know Uyghurs exist. The man, a sculpted crop of hair jutting from his chin, says, “Aside from China, who knows that Uyghurs exist? Zero percent.” As a view from a train window merges into film credits while the Uyghur musician Perhet Xaliq and his wife Pezilet sing an old song of Uyghur youth “sent down” from the city, the pathos of the rapper's plea seems to resonate with the atmosphere of the land, the tight cement block apartments, the frozen sidewalks paved with Shandong tiles.

Donnie Pretends To Be Roger Federer On The Streets Of Shanghai, With Extraordinary Results

Donnie Does as fake Roger Federer
Our favorite Masshole in China, Donnie, has done his best work yet, pretending to be Roger Federer on the streets of Shanghai. "Wo ai Zhongguo," he says, which is exactly what the real Rog would've said, probably. Not to be missed is the girl who covers her mouth and nearly giggles herself into oblivion, thinking Roger Federer just told her (in Chinese!) that she's "very cute."

C4, Ep.86: Self-Deprecation And Toilet Humor

C4, Ep86
Today on C4: A celebration of World Toilet Day -- "Well Stuart, how many times a year do you go to the toilet?" Ah yes, you know this one is going to be good.

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Friday Night Musical Outro: Go To School

LOW BOW - Oh! Ulysses
School Bar has been killing it this year. In my book it's Beijing's #1 live rock 'n' roll venue at the moment. Pretty much the only place you can walk up on a random day of the week and be statistically likely to find a decent local band and at least a dozen drunken teenagers in leather jackets just living the dream. You should go there on Saturday because all the bands playing are worth your time & money & some potential liver damage.

A Different Type Of Crowdfunding For Filmmaker Moxie Peng’s “My 17 Gay Friends”

My 17 Gay Friends featured image
The bar Alfa was hopping last Friday as actors / patrons gathered for a casting call / fundraiser for indie director Moxie Peng’s newest project, My 17 Gay Friends. Eighty percent of the night’s collected cover went to support the production. Attendees had the choice of being a judge or trying out for a role in the film. Judges were given masks to protect their identities and limited to choosing only two candidates.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Wang Meng, Chinese Literary Giant, Uyghur Speaker

Wang Meng
By all standards Wang Meng (1934- ) has had a tremendously successful career. Easing out of his problematic role as Cultural Minister in 1989, Wang was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1994 by the Chinese Literary Society. He has published more than 100 books and was listed as the 24th most commercially successful writer in China in 2010 with a net worth of 1.75 million yuan. This past year a village on the border of Kazakhstan opened a museum in his honor.