Music

Malaysian rapper Namewee defends China satire song as views hit 30m

Mandarin pop song poking fun at Chinese nationalists hits over 30 million views

TAIPEI : A Malaysian rapper who penned a viral Mandarin pop song poking fun at Chinese nationalists said Monday he had no regrets about being blacklisted by Beijing as his track hit more than 30 million views on YouTube.

Released last month, Fragile by Namewee, featuring Australian singer Kimberley Chen, has become a viral sensation across Asia and beyond, despite being scrubbed by censors in China.

The track masquerades as a saccharine love song but is littered with digs towards "little pinks" - a term for China's online army of nationalist commenters - as well as Beijing's authoritarian government.

"I never limit myself or impose self-censorship," Namewee told reporters in Taipei as he and Chen sipped champagne to toast their track's milestone.

"To me, good creations should come from the heart, they should be sincere," he added.

Mandarin-speaking singers, film stars and celebrities rarely court controversy when it comes to China, given Beijing's long track record of blacklisting those deemed critical of its rule.

A misspoken word can quickly lead to an artist being frozen out of the world's largest Mandarin-speaking market and a career in ruins.

But the willingness of Namewee and Chen to take on taboo subjects has struck a chord as China grows increasingly assertive on the world stage under President Xi Jinping.

Over the last four weeks, Fragile has been a top trending YouTube video in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, as well as among Chinese diaspora fans in places like Australia, Canada and the US.

CENSORED

Within days of the track's release, Namewee and Chen's Chinese social media accounts were taken down and their music censored while state media accused the pair of insulting the country.

China regularly removes songs deemed to be politically incorrect from domestic music streaming services.

In August, the Chinese Culture Ministry said it would establish a blacklist of banned songs with "illegal content", such as endangering national security.

Namewee and Chen are both based in democratic Taiwan.

He said: "I think (musicians) should be free to create and that's every creator's wish. I am Malaysian and there are many hindrances there for movies, music and other works including my albums."

The 38-year-old has repeatedly been at the centre of controversy in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

In 2016, he was detained for several days for allegedly insulting Islam over a video partly filmed inside a mosque.

He was arrested again two years later for allegedly insulting Islam with a Chinese New Year video that featured dancers wearing dog masks and performing suggestive moves.- AFP

Celebrities