All posts tagged: Ablajan Awut Ayup

Ablajan Channels “The Fast and The Furious” Kashgar-Style

Ablajan Awut Ayup is trending again in Uyghur cyberspace. Uyghur Weixin and popular social media sites like Misranim are amping-up Ablajan’s meteoric rise in Uyghur pop culture. This time it’s not just his highly orchestrated K-pop-style dance-ensemble performances, his catchy rhymes and bad-boy persona. Ablajan is crossing over. China, meet A-bo-la-jiang. In October the pop star released his first official Mandarin-language music video. It is epic. Starting from the top of an Ürümchi tower, Ablajan, his gang of slick Uyghur urbanites, his girl and his wingman, the rapper McKelly, take us on a car chase through Xinjiang cityscapes. Although the song itself is a fairly straightforward lyric of unrequited love and a playboy scared-straight, the imagery, like Bieber’s 2012 epic music video, is reappropriated from Hollywood car movies and Michael Jackson dance videos. After plotting the way the song, titled “Today,” has been transformed in its journey from Uyghur to Chinese, I will point out some of the key moments in the video when echoes of Beiber and Jackson emerge in a Uyghur imaginary. The Song In …

Children’s Music, Uyghur Memories and Berna a seven-year-old pop star from Ürümchi

 (Part 1 of 2) As has been well documented in discussions of the cultural situation in Xinjiang, many minority people in Xinjiang feel the future of their language and culture is insecure. Efforts to replace Uyghur-medium education begun in 2004 have intensified as the capillary spread of Chinese capitalism embeds its network and ideology deeper and deeper into southern Xinjiang. Although the first site of conflict was urban Uyghur schools, the extension of the railroad to Hotan has brought with it the “leap-frog development” of brand-new schools staffed by Mandarin-speaking teachers; in some cases the signs which accompany this “opening up of the West” were written in Chinese rather than the legally-required Uyghur script of the Uyghur Autonomous Region. These schools are popping up in the desert towns of Southern Xinjiang as tokens of the “sister-city” relationships established around conference tables in Ürümchi following the trauma of the 2009. The sister cities build kindergartens and schools. They erect signs with names such as “Beijing Kindergarten”; “Beijing elementary school”; “Beijing middle-high school”; and leave their sign …

Sufi Poetry and Ablajan Awut Ayup

The Uyghur-language songs of the teen heart-throb Ablajan Awut Ayup run on a loop through the heads of many Uyghur tweens and young urbanites in Northwest China. Taking cues from Justin Beiber, the ever-popular dance moves of the late-Michael Jackson, and the pretty-gangster affect of Korean pop-stars, Ablajan is a self-styled chart-climber; he is a self-made song-and-dance man. Whether  you love him or hate him, the fact remains that he has cornered the Uyghur youth music market by tying clever songwriting with catchy beats. Yet beneath this veneer of auto-tuning, dance rhythms, and theatrical spectacle are melancholic questions. His songs tackle contemporary social issues in a major-key; on the upbeat they cheerfully report the serious problems inherent in rapid urbanization, the erasure of local lifeways, and the pollution tied to unsustainable planning. Ablajan indexes Sufi imagery to the rhythms of electronica, the harmonies of Chinese children’s music and aesthetics of pretty-boy pop not in a negative process but in order to generate language, to catalyze new conventions. His cheerful performances are thus heteroglossic movements — …