Here’s the question of the day: Should the modernisation of classics be allowed? Malaysian rapper Namewee (黃明志) certainly thinks so. After all, art is subjective to the eye of its beholder and if it helps popularise it, why not? However, his opinion is not one that Chinese netizens share.
Recently, singer Xiao Panpan (小潘潘) or Wraya (WENGIE) was raked across coals when she ‘wrongfully interpreted’ a song from the classic Chinese Opera “Yellow Plum Tune (黃梅調)”. Many found her version insulting, which prompted Namewee to speak up in her defence.
Wraya rose in popularity after her song “Learn to Meow (學貓叫)” became a hit in 2018. She has also collaborated with Namewee on “Stupid Things We did Together (一起做過的蠢事情)” which came out in the same year. However, her most recent adaptation caused a lot of criticism. Wraya took the song “The Son-in-law (女駙馬)” from the opera and modernized it. According to Chinese media, her version undermined traditional opera singing methods and was an insult to the country.
Yesterday (22nd September), Namewee made a post of Facebook to support the hapless artist. “The adaptation is nice,” he opined. “The new (version) of old songs can help young people learn more about their nationalism and history. It’s very creative.”
According to the rapper, Wraya was surprised to discover there were people who supported her. “It’s not easy to create in China,” Namewee admitted. He added he hopes “extremists” will not ruin musicians’ creativity and efforts. “I also hope (Wraya ) will not be crushed,” he stated.
His post was quick to attract attention from Chinese netizens. Several left comments claiming his support would actually hurt Wraya. “It’s fine to comfort her in private,” one said. “You can cheer her up publicly now. (But) based on your current situation, (you) will indirectly hurt her.” Others mentioned why they disagreed with Wraya’s version. “Adaptation is fine, but vulgarity is a problem,” a comment stated.
The rapper responded in the comments, explaining why he was throwing his support behind Wraya. “She is my friend. (We) have worked together on a song before, and won an MV award in the United States,” he said. Namewee made it clear he saw nothing wrong with supporting Wraya publicly. “I think those extremists are really on fire,” he wrote. “Please don’t insult the creation.”
Namewee is no stranger to controversies having been involved with several, for instance starting a war with BLACKPINK fans. Additionally, he’s often seen supporting people online such as the hawker who claimed to be extorted.
Although Wraya has apologised for her transgression and remade her version, it’s unlikely netizens will be forgetting it any time soon. The artist stated she had not considered the plot of the opera when she interpreted the song.
Check out the difference here: