A hugely successful internet reality show has put hip hop music into the national spotlight for the first time in China. With more than 2.5 billion views on Chinas largest online video hosting website, iQiyi, the Rap of China has seen dozens of Chinese rappers shoot to stardom.
Showcasing young and feisty contestants locked in rap battle in front of a panel of celebrity judges, the show sparked debate, memes and catchphrases across the Chinese-speaking web.
"Can you freestyle?" became a buzzword, after one of the celebrity judges, Kris Wu, used it to repeatedly grill contestants as he was questioned over his own hip hop legitimacy. Hip hop terms like "diss" - to put someone down - have crept into everyday conversation.
Tapping a gold mine
"Its like they ripped open a gap and found it full of gold," Wang Ke, or MC Bigdog, one of the contestants featured in the show, told the BBC. "Chinese rappers have been underestimated and neglected," Wang said. "Our net worth has grown exponentially after the show, but it should have done so a long time ago."
The genre started gaining momentum in the early 2000s, influenced by American rappers like Eminem and Jay-Z.
Rappers who did well might be signed to labels, music festivals and fashion brands. Some got to perform in clubs.
The number of hip hop music venues and clubs has grown over the years, and national competitions like the China Iron Mic helped to spur on the scene in many cities.
For most rappers it has remained a hobby - some would even pay out of their own pockets to record albums.
All for show?
Rap of China, therefore, was a game changer. It was said to be the most expensive reality show in history with an investment of 200 million yuan. Some 700 aspiring rappers auditioned.
Al Rocco mainly raps in English. He was eliminated in Rap of China in the first round because he didnt rap in Chinese.
Although the show provided money for hip hop music to grow, "its not real hip hop that is in the show," Al Rocco complains. He thinks the programme focuses on drama rather than the music itself so people who didnt know about hip hop would tune in to see it.
作秀赚眼球只是《中国有嘻哈》面对的众多批评之一。很多观众认为选秀过程不公平，另有观众认为节目跟韩国的嘻哈真人秀《Show Me the Money》太像了。当然，对于rapper和很多铁杆地下嘻哈粉来说，最大的问题是“嘻哈”成为主流的时候，就不是他们眼中“真正的嘻哈”了。
Adding drama was not the only criticism Rap of China faces. Many have accused it of having an unfair selection process that favoured some contestants, and others pointed out that the set-up and theme were strikingly similar to South Korean hip hop reality TV show Show Me the Money.But the criticism that matters most to rappers and diehard underground hip hop fans in China is whether going mainstream would mean the end of what they see as "real hip hop".
比如公认的中国嘻哈权威王波（MC Webber），就和很多地下rapper一样，与节目划清界限。他认为把hip hop翻译成嘻哈，就是为了快速获利。但是，过度商业化，会耗尽年轻人的创造力，把歌曲变成“快餐音乐”。
Wang Bo, or MC Webber, who many consider to be Chinas hip hop authority, was one of the many underground rappers who tried to steer clear of the show. Wang thinks even Xi Ha, the Chinese translation of "hip hop", was created to help make a quick profit. Over-commercialising hip hop will drain the creativity of young people and reduce the songs to "fast food music", he wrote on his microblog.
However, MC Hotdog, who now has his own hip hop business managing rappers and performances, says hes hopeful about the new changes.
"Now that the money problem is solved, hip hop artists dont have to worry about their livelihood. They will have more room to keep it real. “Real hip hop", MC Hotdog says, is for those underdogs in society to have a voice of peace, love, independence and unity.
"We are not highly commercialised like in the US where hip hop is just about money and sex," MC Hotdog says. "What China offers is our long history and deeply cultured literature."
We will make it Chinese
"Like Chairman Mao said, borrow whats good from the West and use it in China," says one of the contestants MC Sun Bayi, who is known for performing in formal business attire. "The Chinese invented gunpowder and the Westerners made firearms with it. Now they have hip hop, and we will make it Chinese."