iChongqing Title

Gai, Rapper from Chongqing Plans National Tour to Promote Album

By CHENG KEQIAO|Jan 29,2019

Zhou Yan announces his upcoming national tour in Beijing.

From China Daily

In the summer of 2017, Zhou Yan, a rapper from Chongqing, won the first season of online reality show, The Rap of China, produced and broadcast by iQiyi, one of China's largest online streaming websites.

As the show brought the once underground art form of hip-hop music in the spotlight for the first time in the country, Zhou has become one of the biggest hip-hop stars of China.

Known by his stage name, Gai, the 31-year-old soon stands out with his original music and his rapping in the Sichuan dialect.

His songs, including Kong Cheng Ji ("ruse of the empty city"), which borrows its name from a well-known Peking Opera play, and Huo Guo Di Liao ("hotpot broth"), combine elements of traditional Chinese culture with hip-hop, have been played for about 300 million times on major online music streaming platforms.

With a hectic schedule in 2018, he has written music and performed songs for TV dramas, movies, performed at reality TV shows, outdoor music festivals, and held solo concerts in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Vancouver, Canada. He also made his debut performance in movies and modeled for magazines.

On Jan 20, Zhou appeared in Beijing and announced an upcoming national tour in support of his debut album, Generations of Glory, a 9-track offering.

The prolific rapper has written and performed the new songs, including the title song, Generations of Glory, which he integrates traditional Chinese cultural elements, such as Chinese poems and folk tales, into hip-hop music.

He recorded his drastic life change in the song, Jian Zi Ru Mian. He also dedicates a song, titled I Love You, Wang Siran, to his wife, who he married to in Chongqing in May 2018.

"Winning the show, The Rap of China was just a beginning. I've been writing new materials when I took flights, when I woke up in the middle of the night or when I jog," says the rapper.

"My life has changed a lot. I don't have to worry about money now. But I miss the days when I began my career. The emotion was so raw."

Zhou, who was born in Weiyuan county, Sichuan province, graduated from a vocational school and fell in love with music at the age of 18. He pursued his dream of making music in Chongqing.

As a bar singer in Chongqing, he used to make about 200 yuan ($30) a night and struggled to pursue his music dream. The job was not stable, and he felt guilty that he couldn't help support his parents as the only son in the family. His poor years inspired him to write songs, which later became big hits.

Onstage, Zhou used to be aggressive and competitive. But now, Zhou says that he is much more peaceful and tries to explore more music genres, like pop and jazz, while still being rooted in hip-hop music.

He attributes his change to his marriage, which Zhou considered as "one of the best things in 2018".

"Marriage makes me softer and more open up", Zhou adds.


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