Sorry, but it’s just a bit weird that these French hip-hoppers are called Chinese Man. Yes, we understand that the Marseille-formed crew uses it as a term of affection. And, indeed, we’re aware that, along with their accompanying label Chinese Man Records, DJs Ze Mateo and High Ku, along with beatmaster SLY, have been going by the name since 2004. And, of course, we know that the label (and trio) has carved out a beat-driven, funk-influenced niche for itself that hasn’t really crossed paths (at least often) with the old Middle Kingdom. But, still, we just can’t help but feel that a group of non-Chinese French residents calling themselves Chinese Man, using a whole heap of Sino-referencing imagery and playing in China is, yes, just a bit weird.
Or perhaps we’re being a little sensitive. After all, Chinese Man is all about creating tunes with a raft of global music traditions. In their worldly mix of sounds, they throw in hip-hop with English rhymes and scratching with dashes of afro, dub and funk, occasionally picking up on old school Chinese pop or some sultry old jazzy vinyls. The music is perfectly head-noddingly, body-shakingly middle-of-the-road hip-hop, which, apart from the slightly awkward name, isn’t really weird at all.
Chinese Man plays Hang Out on June 9. Tickets: www.frenchmay.com