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Black Chiney breaks down ethnic barriers with music
By Brian Offenther

MUSICIANS with roots in China are returning — with “roots” music of a different type.

Currently, Avril Lavigne is being heavily criticized on those grounds, with her music video for the song “Hello Kitty” being singled out as using Japanese dancers and culture as props.

I’d argue that case is more complicated than it seems, as it was made using a Japanese director (according to Lavigne), at a time in Lavigne’s career where she is specifically reaching out to Japanese audiences.

Isn’t it more the machinations of simple, reductive (and poor) pop music than anything else?

And that leads us to May 10, when Black Chiney will play glitzy nightclub Geisha (390 Shanxi Rd S.).

The show is free before 11:30pm, and 100 yuan afterward.

That’s right: the name of the 4-member, Miami-based, Jamaican-bred group is a combination of its “black,” or African via Jamaica race, and its “Chiney” or Chinese ethnicity. For example, member Supa Dups’ father is a second-generation Chinese Jamaican, and his mother is of Chinese, German and African descent.

As an independent group and also in collaboration with other artists behind-the-scenes, Black Chiney has achieved massive success with Jamaican dance-hall and reggae, which is sometimes referred to as “roots” music, in addition to hip hop and EDM.

Members have won three Grammy Awards for production work on Drake’s album “Take Care,” Eminem’s “Recovery,” and Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox.”

The group has also won credibility building sound system battles against other music groups, a tradition in Jamaican music that goes back decades.

“They play all sorts of music and are able to satisfy any crowd of people,” says Von Briscoe, one of the promoters for the upcoming event in Shanghai.

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