There’s a certain point at which political propaganda can get downright weird, and China’s ruling Communist Party has reached it.
The Chinese government—which has recently churned out a stream of self-congratulatory public missives (see: its psychedelic music video on China’s five-year plan, as well as this miniature documentary in which bright-eyed Western exchange students praise President Xi Jinping for being “handsome” and “so cute”)—dropped a three-minute rap song this week. It features some quality lyrics from little-known musician Wu Wenduo, as well as a few sound bites from Xi himself.
Or, as he’s referred to in the song, “Big Daddy Xi.”
“Rule the party strictly! Govern the country by law!” proclaims one of the state-produced song’s opening stanzas. Other lines include: “Must streamline the administration and delegate power to lower levels,” “must believe in the government,” and “flies, tigers, big foxes, catch, catch, catch, catch!” as translated by the South China Morning Post.
The rap—and its accompanying cartoon music video, produced by state broadcaster CCTV—is the Communist Party’s latest, and arguably most obvious, gander for the attention of China’s young people. It tries to highlight the ways in which the Chinese government is fighting corruption, reducing pollution, and bettering the country.
While admittedly kind of catchy, the song is not exactly a hit with the Chinese public. “All you can do is shout slogans like a religious cult,” one critic wrote on Sina, a Chinese internet portal, while several others brushed the song off as a failed attempt at modernization by an aging political party.
And of course, there’s the fact that the rap is coming from a government that typically frowns upon rap music so much, it banned 120 “obscene” tracks from the entire country earlier this year.
That’s not to say the song has been a complete dud, though. If its purpose was to grab headlines, the effort certainly paid off. The rap has been covered in news outlets all over the world—and its lyrics, however mocked, have been spread widely across a global audience. No one can say China’s government isn’t focusing on putting out a public message, at least.
Some of the lyrics are even quite poetic. “Clear water and lush mountains equal a mountain of gold,” the song croons at one point. Xi’s lines are particularly revelatory: ”All corruption must be punished,” he declares. And also, more sagely, “An arrow will never return once it’s shot by a bow.”