All posts tagged: Six City

A Uyghur Chinese New Year

The Uyghur language Spring Festival song and dance spectacular “New Xinjiang, New Melody” is back! After a five year absence following the disasters of the Year of the Ox, the Xinjiang Ministry of Culture in association the Bureau of Public Relations has welcomed in the Year of the Horse with a line-up of all the usual Uyghur superstars. Headlined by Abdulla (53:25) and supported by Möminjan (51:45), Six City (42:32), Ablajan (22:59), Berna (15:55) and a host of others, the event was intended to introduce a “brand-new Xinjiang style” to the nation. The multicultural event even featured a Han singer Wang Jian (39:19) singing a famous song from Kumul in Uyghur and the write up for the concert boasts of Hui, Kazakh, Kirgiz and Mongol involvement in the performances. Perhaps the most moving moment came with the great Ekber Qehrimin singing “Oasis Poplar” (Tёrek Bostan) (26:37)  – a heartbreaking classic from the golden age of the 1980s. Here’s to a year in Xinjiang where moments of happiness like these come often.

Uyghur Hip-Hop as Folk Music

Adil Mijit is not the only Uyghur comedian to incorporate a discussion of hip-hop into his performances. In the recent state-sponsored film Shewket’s Summer directed by Pan Yu with assistance from Beijing Film Academy students, Abdukerim Abliz joins the Uyghur hip-hop crew Six City as a reticent folk musician (see the 117 minute mark in the above film). The film, which is both a “coming-of-age” and “parent-trap” melodrama, highlights the way conflicts resolved at the level of the family have larger implications for society. Although the film is heavy in the propaganda of ethnic harmony (a Han character named Luobin [!] is featured as an aspiring musician in search of “original” tunes and then as an inspiration to the Uyghur characters), the slick production values and money behind the film present Uyghur folk arts in a strongly positive light. As a wise Native American activist and anthropologist once told me, “If The Man offers you money, you take the money.” Six City and Abdukerim took the money. The fact that the Uyghur-language poetics of Six City …

Hip-Hop vs. Folk Music

In the film The Silk Road of Pop a classically trained Uyghur tambur player tells viewers that listening to Western music such as hip-hop and jazz does not carry the same feelings of love, tradition and family as Uyghur folk music. He says that he hopes that the generation of Uyghur musicans coming of age today do not forget about their past. This tambur player, a member of a group of studio musicians who often accompany the King of Uyghur pop Abdulla, is repeating a refrain heard frequently by performance artists trained under the legacy of the Maoist regime of multiculturalism. During the Maoist years, ethnic theater, opera, music and dance troupes, were major institutional outlets for ethnically-ascribed life projects. Not only were they economically and politically secure positions, but they provided a space where the souls of people could leak out through gaps in the filter of Socialist Realism. Classically-trained performers of state-approved culture inhabited a role many people highly valued. Of course I’m not suggesting that Uyghur cultural performance was invented by the Chinese …