While the song is not actually produced by the Chinese government, it was heavily promoted by Xinhua on the state media outlet’s YouTube and Twitter accounts when it was released in December.
The track, which is even made more cringey by its music video, is written and performed by Dylan Jaye, a New Yorker who went to Tsinghua University to study Chinese after graduating from Oxford University.
The 21-year-old, who is also known in China as Zhong Yilun, raps about using local services such as Taobao, Wechat, car-hailing service Didi, and his struggles of understanding Mandarin and chopsticks — among many other facets of life as a foreigner in China.
In a televised interview last year, Jaye revealed that he went to China in 2016 and studied Chinese for nine months to become a professional musician. Jaye has since gained some following on local social media, generating a respectable Weibo fanbase of over 50,000.
While most of his followers praise the singer for his looks and vocals, critics have called his rap track “cringey” and a “cancer”.
According to Shanghaiist, Jaye’s music video was produced by Ychina, a media outfit founded last year by 23-year-old Israeli Raz Galor who studied at Peking University.
YChina, which now boasts of around 4 million followers on Chinese social media, has also been helping broadcaster CCTV produce online shows about foreigners residing in China.
Check out the lyrics below (as transcribed by Shanghaiist):
Yo, we here, with the hottest flows and the hottest jianbing.
Rolling out of bed, Middle Kingdom Knocking feeling like a drum Breakfast at the door, jiaozi Last night ordered them
Waimai dude speaking fangyan I’m feeling dumb But these days I’ll never get bored of ’em
Because we’re living here in China I’m a rhymer Telling you the story of this setting through the eyes of another waiguoren The ones that came out here they call helmsmen
And now I’m flipping through Taobao And somehow with the know-how and Zhi Fu Bao You can buy anything you want on this website And the things you didn’t know you wanted til sight
Bottle opening fidget spinner A toaster that makes eggs Pink trousers for dog legs Whole collections of clothing with English words that make no sense
What is Upsoab? Is that like a dog leash, but for hamsters? Buying that!
Call me crazy Call me crazy, but I came here for something new Don’t say maybe We don’t say maybe We say this, well I can do
You ask, why China? Yeah, we reply, why not China? Take on its confusing hutongs and streets and make it on your own
You ask, why China? Yeah, we reply, why not China? With waimai, kuaidi, WeChat I’d be super screwed without my phone
So now I’m out on the street looking for a few bikes with my friends So we can go to our favorite hot pot place right by Dongzhimen No, we ain’t expats, we ain’t tuhao, we ain’t got Mercedes Benz But yo where’s my kouzhao, can’t ride in this pollution
Open WeChat, call a Didi, we be on our way Chinese friends order food, enough for 40 days Tofu with chopsticks is really hard, well that’s okay And then they fight to pay
But we split the bill on WeChat And I use that app to call a Didi to go back And I don’t even carry cash anymore I use my phone to pay
*ding* Is that my door? Yes, my hamster leash is here already but I… I forgot one thing I don’t have a hamster Think I can buy one on Taobao?
Don’t think I’m just too cool to do a funny song and I I was hoping that you all could sing along and I I’ve been thinking after Donald Trump and Brexit And the chaos and the mayhem I’ll sit here and sip oolong and I Dancing with old people in the park and I Barely understand them asking “who we are,” reply
Ni shuo shenme? (What did you say?) Wo ting budong (I don’t understand)