Can you guess who is currently the biggest icon for Chinese rappers to write music about? It’s Karl Marx. The 19th-century German philosopher is being praised in a new rap song that the Chinese state media is promoting.
Titled “Marx is a post-90”, China’s name for millennials, is just “the latest attempt to leverage popular culture in support of the ruling Communist Party,” Billboard reports. The song exalts the godfather of communism and makes him look like a super cool dude. One line of lyrics proclaims: “Life is full of little accidents, then one day I discovered how awesome he was”. Other lyrics state: “I saw my faith, don’t even ask why” and “You are my Venus, my dear Marx”.
The Communist Party’s newspaper People’s Daily uses the song to prove that the Communist Manifesto author still appeals to the youth and will always be in style. The paper also said that the music video for the song went viral. The video resembles Western-style rap videos with a DJ, female dancers in crop-tops, and rappers wearing jerseys and backwards baseball caps.
Billboard points out that although Marx sits in a high position on China’s list of communist icons, “it’s unclear how much the author of famous lines such as ‘the proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.’ resonates with young people raised on video games, hip-hop and western fashions”. Regardless of the apparent disconnect, the Communist Party is definitely trying to make a huge effort to make Marx seem cool.
Last year, 120 similar songs were banned in China, however. none of those had references to Marx being a totally rad dude. The party stated that the banned songs “promote obscenity, violence, crime, or threaten public morality.”
Aside from rap music, the Chinese government has also used animated short films and rock bands to promote the Communist party. Earlier this month, the military released a recruitment video with rap-rock music and lyrics that said things like “just waiting for the order to kill, kill, kill” and images of tanks, guns, and aircraft.