Chinese Hip Hop and East Asian Pop Culture


Japanese and Korean pop culture have long been recognized for their influence on American society. From Pokemon to K-Pop, Americans have embraced these imports for decades, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. However, many audiences remain unaware of the loan-borrow relationship between the globally vibrant cultural exports of Black American hip hop culture and East Asian popular art.

The summer 2023 East Asia in the Upper Midwest teacher program focused on East Asian – and especially Chinese – integration of hip hop as well as its contribution to Black American hip hop.

Participants learned background information about hip hop in East Asia and its cross influences, the geographies of hip hop, examples of song lyrics and singers, and how hip hop can be used in the classroom.

The June 2023 program was led by linguist Brendan Dowling, a PhD candidate in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures with interests in Chinese and Linguistics. Content providers included:

  • Jamel Mims, a rapper and multimedia artist known in China as the bilingual storyteller “MC Tingbudong 听不懂,” who was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study hip hop in China in 2008 and frequently returns to China to perform.
  • Lauren Leigh Kelly, Assistant Professor of Urban Education in the Urban Social Justice Teacher Education program at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education. She is also the director of the annual Hip Hop Youth Research and Activism conference.


Curriculum Guide

The curriculum guide for the “Chinese Hip Hip and East Asian Pop Culture” program is available for free as a PDF here.

The guide covers the following: an overview of hip hop culture in China, Japan, and Korea; description of the two Zoom session topics and speakers; and a listing of further resources, including links to rap songs.

Zoom Sessions - Day 1 and Day 2 (June 27/28, 2023)

Lesson Plans

High School:

Asian National Culture Identities As Expressed in Hip Hop Culture, by Gary M. Powell, Madison West High School, WI

Chinese Hip Hop in Rhythm and Rhyme, by Michael Eisenberg, Bryant High School, NY

Comparing Regional Genres of Music (Brasilian, Chinese, Irish), by Theodore Frank, Milwaukee Marshall High School, WI

Evolution of Chinese Hip Hop, by Sui King Dawn Shum, Baruch College Campus High School, NY

Exploring Cultural Diffusion through Hip Hop by Jamel Mims, by Lorrie Fields, New Bern High, NC

Hip Hop and Kung Fu Martial Arts, by Kathleen Henderson, Milwaukee Marshall High School, WI

Mapping Places through Hip Hop, by Mandy Perret, Dutchtown High, LA

Sociocultural Background of Chinese Hip Hop Culture, by Jen-Li Ko, Marquette University, WI

Middle School:

Chinese Hip Hop Song Contest, by Michael Freydin, Halsey Junior High, NY