Singer Kris Wu, a judge on the hit hiphop show Rap of China, released a new rap song titled “Skr” on July 30. Wu took to Weibo to explain that his latest creation was a “diss track”, expressing his respect for rap culture and his goal of combating cyber bullying with music.
“The controversy is endless, but I’m done here,” he said.
“Top-notch remixes? This song is not remixed
Everyone who said I can’t rap knows nothing about rap
Let me show you some real lyrics and flow
Enough time for the curses and all
Though there’s so many of you
I’ve never been afraid
We are not on the same level skr”
“Blind followers and manipulated mentally-ill puppets
You can only curse people from behind your phone screen
Please show some respect, it’s simple but essential
The Internet era is the age of indulgence
People are easily impulsive with no need to be responsible”
(Editor’s note: The first line is a reference to Internet haters, who criticize Kris’ singing skills and say all his songs are remixed.)
Wu reportedly finished the song in one week. Its lyrics appear to describe the online melee between Wu’s fans and HUPU users during the past few days.
While I’m not a fan of Wu, I can appreciate the lyrics. It reminds me of another rap by Eminem, which goes:
“I think I got a tear in my eye, I feel like the king of
My world, haters can make like bees with no stingers and drop dead
No more bee flingers, no more drama from now on”
Are rap songs musical weapons one can wield against the haters? Maybe, but any rap artist has to have a thick skin to avoid being poisoned by digital venom.
Kris Wu and HUPU
HUPU, an app designed for basketball and soccer lovers between the ages of 20 and 35, attracted special attention during the recent World Cup. A male friend told me most of its users were gangjing, or trolls in search of online arguments. Any post about a particular soccer or basketball player is guaranteed to spawn a war of words.
As a former member of the South Korean-Chinese boy band EXO, Wu has large fan base in China and abroad: most fans are high school girls in the 12 to 16 age range.
When the combination of “Kris Wu and HUPU” first appeared on the trending list of Weibo a few days ago, I couldn’t imagine how the two were related.
Nothing is impossible on the Internet.
It seems the user who started the fight was a fan of Kris Wu and a HUPU user. She said that since the start of the second season of Rap of China, HUPU has been awash in messages from Kris Wu haters.
Is there that much to hate about Wu on the show?
Wu constantly uses the word “skr” to compliment contestants on the show, saying “he’s too skr” or “his rhythm is very skr”, which may be a misuse.
According to Xiha China, “skr” is an onomatopoeic word for the sound of brakes sliding. It can express the same casual meanings as “all right” or “good”. Rappers sometimes use it to rhyme with their lyrics.
Criticism of Wu’s dry vocals on his first single “bad girl” added fuel to the digital fire on July 24. One Douban user went through the trouble of unearthing the original rough take of “bad girl” recorded at a New Year’s Eve Gala to prove the released video is authentic. The gala version was considered a train wreck of a performance.
After countless reposts on TikTok, Douban and Weibo, negative comments begin to spread like crazy. Fans couldn’t bear to see their idol getting attacked and decided to raid HUPU. But HUPU was well-protected, and most of Wu’s fans were not able to answer the questions needed to activate an account. Kris Wu’s fanbase became the laughing stock of professional sports fans.
Even by the low standards of Internet drama, this debacle sounds decidedly third-rate.
From what I see, Wu was a victim of cyber bullying, and it even spread to his female fans. Girls and young women shared screenshots of conversations in which they were bullied or cursed at due to the incident.
So much verbal violence
They won’t even let go of girls
Dignity is being trampled
Bullshitting with no proof
I don’t really see the point of questioning the musical skills or rap techniques of Kris Wu. Believe it or not, the heavily misused word “skr” has been included in Urban Dictionary, an online compendium of American slang.
According to the dictionary, the word refers to being “very talented and skillful in someone’s rapping (the use of this word in this context started to get popularised in China in July 2018, by a famous singer Kris Wu recurrently saying that word in a TV show called the Rap of China).”
As a pop idol, Wu has certainly boosted exposure for both the show and Chinese pop culture. The production team of the show even reedited video clips of him saying “skr” for promotional material.
Ever since the first episode, there has been heated discussion about whether Wu is too harsh of a judge or whether he is even qualified to be there. But a show survives on its ability to generate interest, and Wu’s presence – professional or not – has aroused passion and interest in the rap contest.
To put the Kris Wu phenomenon in perspective, Wu has some 30 million fans: that’s about equal to the population of North Korea. That so many of those fans could be bothered to raid a sports discussion app is a reflection of idol culture.
Out of curiosity, I asked my little sister how I could join a fan group on Weibo or WeChat. She said fans are getting vigilant these days, and most group leaders will check in on members to see whether they spent money on Kris Wu’s works or posted Kris-related materials on Weibo.
It seems like a group of cult worshippers.
The HUPU incident is not the first time Wu’s fans have been caught up in a tit-for-tat. Last December, when he was supposed to be working with actress Zhao Liying on a Christmas song music video, fans began to criticize the actress for being “not good enough”.
There is nothing wrong with spending money or showing support, but such irrational behavior is counterproductive and taints the reputation of their idol.
An online musician wrote a rap song as a response to the“diss track”:
“When did hiphop become a moneymaker,
With musical works becoming like sabres
And the capital market like a cheesecake
All the blind fools making a fuss about nothing
It is no longer the age of innocence ten years back”
No matter right or wrong, the age of innocence is gone forever, isn’t it?