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March 9, 2011

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Local culture inspires rapper

WHEN Senegal-born rapper MC Lida ran through a list of Shanghai street names without a pause or mistake yesterday, the crowd surrounding him on downtown Nanjing Road W. were visibly impressed.

It was not just the hip-hop clothing, complete with shades, or Lida's rapping skills that captured their attention, but the way he introduced Chinese into Western hip-hop.

In one of his part-Chinese part-English tracks they heard him repeatedly proclaim "I am Tingbudong."

This means "I don't understand what you're saying" - which Lida said best describes the situation most foreigners find themselves in when they first arrive in the city. "I made a song about this because whenever people hear this, they understand and start to laugh," said Lida.

Lida, who has dual Italian and American citizenship, says he has tried to "customize" the American hip-hop style to appeal to Chinese audiences.

"In China, I made the music slower and more tender than the American style. The lyrics don't contain any rude words so everyone, from kids to grandmas, can enjoy it," said Lida.

When Lida started out in Shanghai he would ask taxi drivers to drive round and get them to stop when they arrived at a busy area. "I told them just to drive and I would get off where many people were gathered," he said.

Lida's first album has proved a big hit on the streets of Shanghai, with 4,000 copies sold in only one month to fans watching his performances.

Sometimes, when the crowds are too large, police and urban law enforcement teams stop the rapper's street shows.

"I don't aim to make money from selling the CDs, I'm trying to open up a door where more people can get to know me and my music," said Lida.

Back in Italy, Lida was a fashion designer but he quit that to pursue his dream of being a rapper.

He said he was now trying to learn more Chinese so his next album, scheduled for June or July, will contain songs written and performed entirely in Chinese, dealing with Shanghai hot topics.


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