The Redprint: Rhyme and Reason in the Riddle Kingdom
is a 21-track parody mix of Sinohiphopfunkaliciousness
written and recorded by Big Daddy Dough, a Beijing-based economist rapper.
This album is dedicated to Sinophiles past, present and future,
AND to the continued strength of the US-China relationship.
The Redprint project began back in 2010, when Hamilton was still just a seedling in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creative mind. In the interim 7 years, he and I both wrote approximately the same number of raps about two different political eras in two different countries, featuring two very different leading men. But perhaps the biggest difference is that his authorship turned into a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album and a Tony-winning Broadway hit, while mine turned into well this relatively obscure rap/funk album. However, my hope is that fans of The Redprint, in appreciating the issues presented, the lyrical flow and the creative effort, will take the $1,000 they would have spent on the Broadway ticket for the yet-to-be produced musical Jinping and donate it (or more, or less…whatever you can manage) to a charity of choice. I have featured two charities below which I personally support, because of their wonderful work in using music and the arts to heal hearts and bring people together across cultural divides. Please look them up and consider them for a donation. But mostly, please be generous in your charitable endeavors, whatever, wherever and for whomever they may be. Let’s team up to make the world a better place!
Speaking of making the world a better place, the US-China relationship is the world’s most important geopolitical bilateral dynamic and will be for some time. In my music, I present a view on a whole host of China related issues, biased obviously by my own perspectives, but presented, hopefully, in a balanced way that reflects the broader narratives and dynamics of the day, from a diversity of perspectives (foreign and Chinese). To be clear and candid, this album is not a criticism of China, and it is also not an apologist’s effort to praise China. It is intended to be a fun and entertaining, but honest assessment of the issues Chinese policymakers, Chinese citizens, China watchers and China’s counterparts are evaluating and trying to work through on a daily basis. The issues are complicated, and can often provoke impassioned discord, so presenting them in a lighthearted way might, I hope, help keep the dialogue constructive and positive. To that end, my hope is that this album will spur greater passion for studying China and Mandarin Chinese in the US and other countries, and that both sides of the US-China relationship will be able to maintain a healthy level of humanity, personality, mutual respect and optimism in the geopolitical relationship that will dictate the most substantial global outcomes of the 21st century. May both sides spend more time humbly appreciating each others’ strengths while peacefully resolving their differences…
Ping Pong Productions
(PPP) is a cultural exchange organization whose mission is to bring China and the world together through the performing arts. Using the arts as a bridge to deepen mutual understanding, PPP has brought more than 500 performances, workshops, discussions, residencies, and symposia to audiences, students, corporate events, and communities in more than 50 countries on five continents, including to Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Sydney Opera House, and Edinburgh International Festival. PPP toured the first two American theater companies ever to perform at China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, including Oscar-winner Tim Robbins and his Los Angeles-based theatre troupe The Actors’ Gang.
PPP runs a pioneering education program, bringing free performances and workshops by American and other international artists to schools and universities in more than 20 cities across China. PPP now is developing a mirror program to bring Chinese performers to school and community centers across the U.S.
Shropshire Music Foundation
The Shropshire Music Foundation develops youth leadership and capacity for peacemaking and problem-solving in global conflict zones through the establishment of locally-run, youth-led music education programs. These programs provide local children opportunities for education, trauma relief, expression, and creativity and local teenagers opportunities to develop leadership, teaching, and expressive skills, to become role models in their communities, to access broader opportunities for education, and to reduce vulnerability to extremist group participation. Currently SMF is in Syrian, Kurdish, and Yazidi Refugee Camps in Greece; Schools and Community centers in Kosovo; Schools and Centers for Former Child Soldiers in Uganda; and Community Centers in Northern Ireland.
Los Angeles, CA 2.11.2017 @ 6:30 pm
Provo, UT 3.17.2017 @ 6:30 pm
Washington D. C. 3.24.2017 @ 6:30 pm
Beijing, China 4.14.2017 @ 6:30 pm
Hong Kong early 2018 (TBD)
Beijing State of Mind
Run This Town
The Next Episode
We Love Our FAI
Big Daddy Dough
Grew up in America’s Midwest region and credits six major influences that led to the production of this album. First, his mother… for always encouraging him to think in unorthodox ways and, importantly, for making him stick with his musical training as a youngster. Second, his love of music… he was trained as a classical and jazz violinist, which led to developing an ear attuned to subtle stylistic and musical nuances, which came in very handy in the recording process. Third, his father… who has a natural gift for languages, in particular for mimicking different accents, as well as an instinct for clever word play. Growing up around that influence subconsciously led to his own experimentation with word play and lyrical composition. Fourth, Weird Al Yankovic… as a young boy, Weird Al was his favorite artist, appreciated for his humorous parodies and ability to take catchy, popular tunes and totally change the dynamic of the song in entertaining ways. Fifth, his love of basketball… growing up in Chicago playing basketball inevitably meant exposure to the hip hop culture, which itself became known for clever lyricism which often cut to the core of some really important societal issues.
Those five factors led to early instincts for composing his own parody music, which eventually focused on the hip hop genre. But the sixth and final factor which led to The Redprint project was a passion for China… Big Daddy Dough first came to Beijing in 2001 as an undergraduate student and immediately fell in love with the challenges and opportunities which were ever present and coexisted in unique fashion in China, and still do to this day. His passion has grown since then, and after writing Runaway A-shares in 2007 as Chinese equities markets were overheating, he didn’t return to the China theme as a rapper until 2010, when he wrote and recorded Beijing State of Mind. From there, it was an eight year journey to the culmination of this 21-track compendium of Sinohiphopfunkaliciousness, with tracks being inspired by the current events of the day in the Middle Kingdom, with a particular emphasis on the period from 2012-2016.
Big Daddy Dough THANKS…my employer for the privileged assignment to spend nearly a decade learning about China up close and in real time. Second, I’m grateful to the Chinese people for their wonderful culture and cuisine, their wild optimism and their welcoming spirit. Indeed, my personal friendships in China are what give me great hope for a prosperous US-China relationship in the decades to come. Third, I’d like to thank the many mentors and China hands who have been friends and teachers along the way in helping me discover my own China story, most notably my thesis advisor and old friend Zhang Wei. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my wife and children for their patient support and enthusiasm as I have labored over this project on and off for the past seven years. Finally, I am grateful to Providence for inspiring me in my journey to the Middle Kingdom, and for blessing me with a musical talent which allows me to tell my China story in a fun and unique way.
This album would have gone nowhere without the vocal talents of the inimitable Princess Fortier. Her professionalism and talent were essential in the creative process. Collins Peters, lead producer for the album, offered technical expertise as well as a musician’s ear. Aaron Hatch, aka Fresh Big Mouf, mixed and mastered the album and is a creative genius in his own right (check out his YouTube channel). Props to colleagues Pipes Eliot (PETE) and The LoGo (LYG), who lent their vocal reeds to a few of the more challenging tenor melodies. Album artwork is a product of DM’s graphic design brilliance, and MBG’s and XJ’s natural photographic eyes. And a final shout out to the original artists for these 21 classic tracks, without which my commentary would remain mere poetry…in no particular order…Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Travie McCoy, Bruno Mars, Eminem, Rihanna, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, Carl Carlton, B.o.B., Mr. Hudson, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Meghan Trainor, LunchMoney Lewis, Ryan Tedder, Missy Elliott, Tupac Shakur, Ludacris, Mary J. Blige, Mark Ronson, OMI, and Michael Franti.