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April 1, 2010

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It's a rap in Shanghainese

ONE of the earliest rap bands in Shanghai - Double Poom, called Peng Peng in Chinese - signed a three-year contract with Sony BMG in 2005 as one of the few hip-hop crews in China to have a contract with an international music company.

Unfortunately, things didn't turn out well as they had thought. With only one album released in 2005, the contract ended in 2008, and the crew came back to the indie world and the clubs again.

The band give stage live shows at Sky Club in Dream Factory (Tong Le Fang) on Yuyao Road every Friday.

Founded in 2003, the group gained overnight popularity on the Internet with an original song "Back to Farm" created by group leader Shi Lifeng (Robin).

The current five-piece band consists of Robin, MC Pan Qi (PIMP Q/PQ), rapper Zhang Junwei (A-Ken), Wang Licheng (Banny) and newcomer Huang Pei (M80).

The group is growing fast musically and enriching their style to become one of the best rap bands in Shanghai.

Their rap is in both Mandarin and Shanghainese.

"We want to promote local culture and the language of Shanghai through our music," says Robin.

They now have a new song rapped in Shanghainese entitled "Shanghai Dialect Is Great."

Songs popular among their fans include "A Song for Hip Hop," "Babe, I am Here," "Baby Girl," "Invented Sex," "It's Not a Game" and "Song Cry 128."

Their songs are critical on the negative sides of social reality, striking a chord with listeners. Lyrics are often sharp and humorous.

It's not easy to make a living with the earnings for club performances. Both Robin and M80 have daytime jobs.

"We are insisting on what we like, but we are not that confident of the market," says M80.

Putting their songs on the Internet is almost the only way they promote their music.

But the five won't give up their dream.

"We are planning to develop Double Poom to be a brand including music, street dance and fashion. We are not merely a band, we are a real group realizing our dream," says Robin. The Band Members Leader - Shi Lifeng (Robin)

Shi Lifeng (Robin), 32, is the soul of the group. He founded the band in 2002 and his original song "Back to Farm" made him and the band Double Poom known in the indie music world.

As his pursuit for musical creation improves, his lyrics become more and more mature - fitting the commercial market yet keeping his integrity intact.

His songs - such as "So Cool," "You Make Me Crazy," "Annoyed" and "Come Across" - are very popular with the fans of Double Poom, and represent typical Shanghai-style rap.

"My favorite music styles are hip-hop, R&B and reggae, and I am the big fan of Snoop Dogg, Dr DRE and 2PAC," he says. "I hope we can release good-quality albums and make hip-hop music much more popular in China."

MC - Pan Qi (PIMP Q/PQ)

PQ is one of the most popular party MCs in China. Before he joined, PQ had signed an album contract with Sony Music.

During study at university, PQ won the championship in the first China College Student Street Dance Competition.

With rich performing experience in nightclubs as an MC rapper, PQ is definitely a representative in the Shanghai rap world.

"I like hip-hop, funk and reggae, and have my own songs like 'PIMP Q' and 'Street-dreams'," he says.

Rapper - Zhang Junwei (A-Ken)

The 25-year-old A-Ken is the only girl in the band. She is regarded as one of the best female rappers in China. Her voice is full of power.

Since she joined the group in 2004, A-Ken has created many outstanding works with her fellow band members, including "Say Goodbye" and "Diary."

"Her performance on those songs is breathtaking and hard to beat," says leader Robin.

"My favorite music styles are hip-hop, R&B and soul," A-Ken says. "I like Jay-Z, Trina, Remmy Ma, Cassidy and TI."

Wang Licheng (Banny)

The 26-year-old Banny has been making hip-pop music for four years. His songs include "Best I Ever Had," "Just for You," "Ya Ma Baby" and "You Make Me Feel All Right."

He joined Double Poom in 2006, and his musical talents are fully exploited by the group. He also participates in post-produce work.

Wang says his favorite music styles are R&B, jazz, hip-hop and soul. "I like to give live performances and I hope our fans like our songs and enjoy our live shows," he says.

Newcomer - Huang Pei (M80)

Joining the band only last June, 27-year-old M80 is the freshest member in the band, but his achievements in hip-hop music are hard to ignore.

Early in 2003, M80 founded his own four-piece rap band X44.

"I have my own songs like 'Showtime' and 'Ears Listen to You'," he says. "My favorite singers are J Holiday, Musiq Soulchild, R Kelly, T Pain and Joe."

As the fresh blood in the band, M80 is trying to add different elements such as pop, rock and folk to hip-pop music and make Double Poom a multi-elements band.

"We are making our music with an attitude of playing serious," he says. I have known about this local hip-hop group for a long time. As one of the best rap bands, they are a pride of Shanghai.

Shanghai needs a group of this kind, not merely for the music, but also for the local culture such as Shanghai dialect.

I also know that their existence is not that easy at all. I hope they can achieve more with such a hard effort.


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