Culture

How Three African Rappers are Forging a New Home In China

by Tasbeeh Herwees

January 29, 2015
Image via China Remix's Facebook page.

Local taxi drivers refer to it as “chocolate city”—the Chinese city of Guangzhou is home to Asia’s largest diasporic African community, and it’s only been growing since airlines first established direct flights between African countries and China in 2008. Estimates of the local African immigrant population in Guangzhou range widely from 20,000 to 200,000. The community suffers from stereotypes that cast African immigrants as economic opportunists, but a new documentary intends to subvert that narrative with the stories of three African rap artists—Dibaocha Sky, Ivan Manivoo, and Flame Ramadan—struggling to make it in the city. China Remix depicts their confrontations with anti-black prejudice, their battles with immigration and deportation laws, and their attempts to forge a new life in a new place.

“We find it so difficult,” says Ramadan, a Nigerian rap artist, in the trailer. “The police are everywhere to chase you.”

“There are many blacks in Guangzhou,” says Manivoo, who is from Uganda. “They need some entertainment.”

China is a “land of opportunity” for these three rappers—but it’s not just about making money. They contribute to the unique cultural milieu of Guangzhou and are attempting to establish their place in Chinese society through their music.

“What we’re trying to show in this documentary is that there is a[n] [African] community that’s pretty established, and now an entertainment industry is actually popping up to supplement that community,” adds Melissa Lefkowitz,  a co-producer of the film, told City Lab

Check out the China Remix trailer below.

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How Three African Rappers are Forging a New Home In China