Magazine article Newsweek International

Giving Voice to the Dark Side

Magazine article Newsweek International

Giving Voice to the Dark Side

Article excerpt

Hong Kong hip-hop artist Mc Yan knows how to make an impression. At a high-school singing contest where he was invited to perform last week, the high-strung, goateed, 28-year-old Cantonese singer flipped off photographers as they rushed up to the stage to shoot his picture. After belting out songs about prostitution and the ghettos, laden with English profanity, he was disappointed at the passivity of the audience--2,000 students from the city's elite secondary schools. "Don't you understand English?" he mocked. "What are they teaching you in schools?" Finally, some of the students threw off their restraint. "S--t!" they shouted back.

Hong Kong's youth have responded overwhelmingly to the message of Yan and his band--named LMF, or LazyMuthaF---a, whose disdain for authority and outrage at socal injustice have struck a nerve. LMF's second album, "Lazy Clan," has sold nearly 50,000 CDs since its release last year. It's a big break from the slick, teeny-bopper "Cantopop" that dominates the music industry in Hong Kong. LMF's gritty, angry ballads give voice to the darker side of life in this teeming city of 6.8 million--and have sold mostly by word of mouth. The group's two CDs have received virtually no airplay on the city's radio stations, which are squeamish about swear words, even in English.

LMF's success is due partly to good timing. Since the handover to China in 1997, Hong Kong has been hit by economic problems and, for the first time in decades, widespread social protests. Young people face rising unemployment and uncertainty about their future. …

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