YG's "Meet the Flockers" is blowing up on Chinese social media for its offensive lyrics, but the controversy also illustrates a cultural misunderstanding of hip-hop.
In 2014, the Compton-born rapper YG released his major-label debut My Krazy Life to widespread acclaim, with one critic calling it a "classicist read on Southern California gang life" coupled with “a refined flair for storytelling.” Buried in the middle of the album was a scant two-minute long track called "Meet the Flockers," a nod to YG’s own past as a convicted felon that kicks off with him rapping the lines “First, you find a house and scope it out / Find a Chinese neighborhood, cause they don't believe in bank accounts.” Never released as a single, it at most merited a passing mention in reviews of the album.
Two years later, "Meet the Flockers" has resurfaced on an unexpected corner of the internet, after a YouTube video featuring the song began circulating feverishly at the tailend of last month on Weibo and WeChat, two of China’s most popular social media networks, with Chinese Americans as well as users in China condemning YG's song as racist in its singling out of Chinese families as easy crime victims.
What sparked this outcry, more than two years after the song was originally released? All signs point to its origins being a September 16 incident in which Fengzhu Chen, a Chinese American woman in Georgia, shot at three intruders who entered her home, killing one of them. A grainy black-and-white video of the encounter went viral, and soon after, the "Meet the Flockers" video (which was produced independently of YG by one Darren Ojeda, and has since been deleted from YouTube) began making the rounds.