This story is over 5 years old.


China’s hip-hop answer to “American Idol” is huge — even though rap was banned in China

Billions of people are watching, but there’s just one hitch: None of this should be happening.

BEIJING — It might be a few decades late, but hip-hop is huge in China. There’s just one hitch: None of this should be happening.

It’s all thanks to a show called “The Rap of China.” Imagine "American Idol," except full of rappers, and everyone is Chinese, and you’ll get the general idea.

It’s slick, it’s dramatic, and it's a bit goofy. It’s also massively popular, pulling in 3 billion views on IQiyi, China's answer to Netflix. It's only in its first season, but the show has already launched a few rappers to superstardom.


All this, despite a January order from the Chinese government that banned hip-hop from being shown on TV.

And yet, somehow, "The Rap of China" is still on the air — and in its second season.

VICE News went to a live taping in Beijing to find out how an entertainment company is building a fortune on a genre that wasn’t supposed to be popular — and to see how local rappers are keeping both audiences and censors happy.

This segment originally aired Sept. 20, 2018, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.