5 Lunar New Year-themed tracks to usher in the Year of the Rabbit
Featuring cuts from Higher Brothers, VAVA, MC JIN, ShiGGa Shay & Namewee
The Lunar New Year is here, and we’re about to officially usher in the Year of Rabbit. Once January 22 comes, spots all over the world will be painted with the auspicious color red via lanterns, couplets, paintings, and a myriad of flowers. What is a better way to celebrate and ring in the new year, if not through song?
At LiFTED, Hip Hop is what we love and care about. We’ve compiled five Lunar New Year-themed tracks from the yesteryears to soundtrack your gatherings with all your loved ones. Play them over the intense Mahjong sessions, or put on the music videos for them on the TV to segue from conversations you’d rather not have.
Happy New Year, folks. Here’s to a great one.
Higher Brothers ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’
We can’t have a list celebrating Lunar New Year tracks without including the Chengdu rap collective Higher Brother’s ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai.’ The track is literally named after a greeting commonly used during the celebratory time of the year. It means wishing for an individual’s wealth to grow, or in other words, securing the bag.
That’s exactly what the Higher Brothers rap about on this track, too – dropping bars on how they’ve got their money up now, and how they’ve made it while they were at it. The track was released in 2019, and although the group has since gone on a hiatus, each of them is still releasing music individually. When you think of the Higher Brothers as a collective, ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’ will almost always come to mind.
VAVA ‘My New Swag’ [我的新衣] featuring Ty. & Nina Wang [王倩倩]
VAVA is an MC hailing from Yaan, Sichuan, China. She introduced herself to the world when she participated in the first-ever season of The Rap of China, a Hip Hop reality show with the aim of discovering the next best MC in the country. Although she was eliminated in the last round before the finals, that didn’t stop her from becoming the MC she is today, with multiple releases under her belt and even a LiFTED cover.
In 2017, the same year she participated in The Rap Of China, she dropped ‘My New Swag [我的新衣].’ The instrumentation on the track samples heavily from traditional Chinese instruments, which blends brilliantly well with the electronic drum kits, alongside VAVA’s boisterous delivery of her bars.
There’s also a Chinese opera snippet in the track – something that’ll definitely catch you off guard. Put it on and you’ll surprise all your guests with this eclectic track.
MC Jin ‘Chinese New Year’
The older we get, the more stress falls onto our plates - from work responsibilities to relationships or even financial difficulties. Sometimes, because of all that’s weighing down on us, we lose sight of how far we’ve come to get to where we are today.
Let MC Jin, the first Asian-American to be signed to a major record label, take you back to the simpler days with ‘Chinese New Year.’ The four-minute track is a sentimental take, as he talks about his parent’s struggle as immigrants to his journey as a legendary MC. He drops odes to his childhood, and anyone who’s grown up around Asian culture can relate to it – from playing Big 2 to making dumplings with the entire family.
This is one to kick back with when all the festivities are over, and you’re laid in bed thinking of everything and nothing at the same time. One to remind you to keep going, no matter how tough it gets. As MC Jin says it best – “Chinese or not/This is for whoever will listen/Listen we are more similar than different/Unite us all, that’s what I’m tryin’ to do here/Cause for us, every day is Chinese New Year.”
ShiGGa Shay x Lion Men ‘旺Ah!’
For a whole lot of people around the globe, this is the very first Lunar New Year without COVID-related restrictions in three years. Gone are the anxiety-riddled days of the pandemic on a full-blown scale. With high vaccination rates and immunity built up from recovery, we should be at peace when visiting older and younger relatives again.
But maybe you’ve forgotten what it’s like – what usually goes down, and how everyone acts. But don’t worry, one watch of ShiGGa Shay and the Lion Men’s 2014 track ‘旺Ah!’ and you’d be well acquainted with all of the shenanigans again. The track is a playful take on what happens during the Lunar New Year celebrations, with multiple jokes thrown at all the different age groups and their eccentric tendencies, mixed together with phrases in Chinese dialects. There’s something for everyone on this track, and it’s definitely one that’ll spark a bunch of light-hearted banter among all of your loved ones.
Namewee’s rap battle from 13 years ago is also another lighthearted take for everyone to take in. It starts off with BAO, who is dressed in a traditional Chinese outfit singing over what sounds like a traditional Chinese New Year song right before Namewee breaks it up, followed by a switch to a Hip Hop beat, which Nameawee proceeds to rap over.
It goes back and forth before it hilariously culminates with BAO giving Namewee an earful, the way an elder would to someone younger – the kind that we’ve all been through, one too many times.