Matthew Niederhauser is a Beijing-based photojournalist and filmmaker whose coverage of that city’s youth culture and urban development has appeared in The New Yorker, National Geographic and The New York Times, among other publications. In 2009, Niederhauser published the book Sound Kapital, which documented the underground music scene in Beijing. (Niederhauser spoke about Sound Kapital at Asia Society’s Washington Center in November 2009.)
The above multimedia project documents live performances of some of the most popular underground hip hop artists in Beijing, including MC Majun, MC Dawei, Nasty Ray, Yin Sar (IN 3), Yin Ts’ang, MC Webber, MC D-Yosef and punk musicians Lazy Camels and Rustic. In the video, Niederhauser provides an informal history of China’s underground hip hop scene, explaining some of its defining characteristics as well as some of the problems and obstacles faced by Chinese hip hop artists. In his view, the music is ultimately a vehicle for self expression.
“I think the only direction for hip hop in China is onwards and upwards,” Niederhauser concludes. “There is so much more potential for these guys to reach larger audiences.”