Introducing HK hip hop duo – FAMA

So what’s worse than the HK music scene? Cantonese rap.

fama

First of all, this is not a blog to bash them. I LOVE these guys. To explain my former statement, it was a mix of me semi-jabbing from a third person’s perspective and a pint of sarcasm/truth.

Cantonese is a language with NINE tones, plus its a “pictorial language”, so, making it one of the most difficult language to learn in the world. In English, it would be okay to say a word with a different intonation but still retaining its meaning, but in Cantonese, if you slightly alter the sound of “ma”, it can turn from “mom” to “horse”.

Yikes! Ikr? So, imagine if you’re rapping in a language with 9 different tones… that would be a lot of “ups” and “downs”, making it sound… well, weird. It’s just some language are unfortunate to sound… not so good in certain categories. Especially if you’re not used to Cantonese, Chinese rap may sound extremely off putting to you.

But enough of that. Here’s our first video:

This is one of their breakthrough songs in 07. GOD WERE MY CLASSMATES ANNOYING WHEN THEY’RE RAPPING THIS!! I hated this when it came out… until I had a friend who was a MAJOR fan of them in high school so I gave them a go again. Replay, replay, and replay did the trick.

Oh, and about their name:
“FAMA” is basically a really bad pronunciation of the word “farmer”… and since the farmers’ job is to “spread” the seeds, they wanted to spread “their” seeds of hip hop to Hong Kong and various places in China, to make it become one of the local cultures. That’s from the “official source” anyways! But when they got interviewed, it was revealed when they were hanging out with some friends, they saw a person who had a pants pulled up just above the ankles… and thought the look was akin to a farmer, plus the name’s “easy to remember”. The thought about spreading seeds was nice though….

Some of my favourites from their earlier works:


If Snow White had 7 dwarfs, why can’t 6-Wing have 7 pretty ladies to sleep with?

A fun song about how they get chicks/laid. “Pulling the flag” is a euphemism of the pee-pee being “up” lol. Most of their songs contain almost no swear words nor “I GOT BOOTIES YO” so this was a bit special! Also loved the dj-scratching at the end.

FAMA – FAMA Ode (lol)

Their lyrics of this song for why I like them so much:

They all think “hip hop, hip hop” is for the “swears”
But when they listen to FAMA they wait a minute and think,
“Eh?” there’s something to think about
Forgive me for being straight,
But even if you look cool,
Your IQ plus knowledge of hip hop is still equal to zero!

Next is a very disturbing song regarding issues of abortion:

The song’s “happy” beats contrasts heavily to the darker lyrics. Some notable ones:

Sorry, to my first-born child,
Actually as your mom I didn’t want this to happen
Go to Shen Zhen*, Mainland China or wherever,
I don’t wanna be a mom when I’m still not 15 yet
Do you understand? It’s not that I don’t love you
But how can I think of how to deal with you?
I know, I have I have searched for your dad
But there’s so many of them – who could I find?
Do you want me to check their DNA one by one?
That’s impossible – there’s too many of them
So I had to, you know, flushed you down the toilet along the way
I will miss you, I will think of you everyday
Even though I am wrong I hope you don’t blame me

Mama, mama, I couldn’t believe it,
Last time’s “greeting gift” was a magical tunnel,
That place, where is it, it’s called, ah, “The Infant’s Hell”
They told me I was number 100
Reincarnation – I’ve got cut in line – been waiting for years
You believe in fate right, mama?
It seems like they really want you to give birth to me
Did I came at the wrong time again?
Did you want to play bungee jump but the strings gone?
You don’t need to answer me, I don’t need an answer
I won’t blame you, but please promise me one thing
If you give birth to the next one, please don’t abandon him again
Please do it for me, do it for the former 9,999 ones
Wouldn’t it be great if there wasn’t a 10,000th one?
Wouldn’t it be great?

*Abortion is illegal except for special cases, so people would usually go there for abortions.

In the middle of the song, there’s a conversation of a girl with her friend. The girl mentioned being too young to raise a child with an obnoxious “so what?” attitude. I think the song, rather than bashing abortion itself, is mainly bashing about the teenagers’ irresponsible actions and not thinking far ahead.

Next is another highly disturbing song about molestation/rape/suicide.
I couldn’t fine the music video so this’ll have to do.

Come now come now, come walk with me
I think I will be done after walking these stairs
The top has a lot of places to choose from
Let me choose something that wouldn’t fall (die) so fast, that would fall (die) so gloriously
I am now 17, the building doesn’t have 18 floors
So, do I have 18 years?

Ma, let me join you down there!

On the second day no one paid attention to this news
On the third day no one paid attention to this news
On the fourth day no one paid attention to this news

On the fifth day the same thing happened again
On the sixth day everybody’s paying attention to this news
On the seventh day no one paid attention to this news…. (repeat till the tenth day)

Also, a theme song about the dangers of using drugs:

FAMA – No No No (/Don’t Don’t Don’t)


Hey. I feel a bit dizzy. What the heck did you just gave me?

They are also known for their “motivational” songs, making people question about burrowing themselves too deep into school/books/academics (as most Asians do…), and encouraging people to chase their dreams.

FAMA – 24 (hours)

If your life has 24 hours left, what statement would you like to make?
It seemed like anything are just little things

Sigh, when I was young everyone told me to work hard, ace the tests,
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard it, it’s everyone’s consensus,
Told me that if I got into university with the “sand paper”,
Got into a big company, earning the big bucks, that’s only how I’m gonna be a “successful person”
Who said that this way of living life is the only meaningful way to live?!
The day you’re born it’s the highest decree,
Seems like we’re just pawns in the chess

When you reach the end, how will you walk?
Would you wander around in paradise?

Or would you stay, praying every second,
That your deathbook was wrong, your time wasn’t up yet?

Would you look for your lover, go lovey-dovey, listening to the wind and looking at the sea?
Or would you go quietly, as you’ve quietly came?*

*This line was from a famous poem “Goodbye to Cambridge” over here, “輕輕的我走了,正如我輕輕的來”

“O’Fama” album had a lot of great songs, and the one below deals with “people who should be trusted cannot be trusted”.

FAMA – It’s Up To You To Believe

The first half of the lyrics tells of a woman who found her lost wallet at the police station, later on the police invited her to “drink afternoon tea”, but she ended up waking up on a bed the next day, seeing her clothes on the floor and the “policeman” next to her smoking a cigarette.

The second half talks of a girl student who “has a lot to talk about” with her teacher, and the teacher subsequently sending her gifts. The parent asks her if she knows why he “treats her so good”, she replies, “not only that, sometimes when he’s free he’ll touch my thighs”. The teacher then said if she “respects” him then she’ll have a higher grade. In the end, the girl ended up getting pregnant.

The song ends with saying you don’t have anyone to depend on and can only trust yourself.

FAMA – Entertainment Murder Incident

Listen carefully now, the death of FAMA’s 2 emcees
They said a couple of words, “Your death your own business”

Sometimes I think university students have never seen people! 😀

A fun song about saying if you “die” in the entertainment business, it’s your problem, and also how they manage to earn money even when they’ve messed up lol.

FAMA – Loneliness Is Invincible

Have you ever thought “loneliness” doesn’t have an antonym?
Search the dictionary then tell me
Or perhaps
There’s no such thing so there’s no such word?
Loneliness’ WeiBo* needs some attention,
Loneliness is stealing potatoes on Facebook!**
Evil or good, they’re bound to be lonely

Save your breath, don’t go against loneliness
If there’s you then there’s loneliness!
He has the most lovers, changing every month
He still feels lonely, is it because they treat him as a toy too?

Loneliness is, a bunch of eunuchs going to a brothel,
Loneliness is, no matter how many achievements,
How many friends you have, you can only bear it yourself

*WeiBo is a Mainland China social media site.
**A transparent reference to “stealing potatoes” in Farmville/similar games on fb, haha.

Of course… the lyrics are 99999 times better since they rhyme. 😉

The song starts with C-Kwan (the shorter one of the duo) rapping about his everyday life, and even mentions the ridiculous property prices that gives him a hard time even paying for his “down payment”, giving his “youth” to his boss. Then it mentions how he didn’t mind loaning his money to his friend, and his friend suddenly becoming well-off.

Khalil Fong (a Hong Kong based singer who’s one of the rare HK soul & R&B genre) proceeds to sing the chorus, saying “I’m not really that close (familiar) with you, I’m really, really, not that close (familiar) with you.”

C-Kwan raps about “how ’bout you let me borrow some ten-thousands for my ‘initial payment’ eh?” then Khalil replies to him with the chorus lol. Then C-Kwan replies with “darn, you don’t have to say it like that”, then makes a pun, scoffing “What do you mean “not that close”? What, you grilling steaks? Medium rare huh??” The word that Khalil uses, “Shou”, means familiar… but it can also mean the  “not-rawness” of the meat/steak… 😉

So the song is a funny battle of wits between once-close friends lol.

Gah… they have sooo many good songs it’s hard to pick a select few! I’ve tried to share half of the ones that I’ve loved, and the other half that deals with the more serious issues. Do give them all a listen and look at the lyrics if you can!

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11 thoughts on “Introducing HK hip hop duo – FAMA

  1. This is a really good introduction to this band. I love the way you brought knowledge of what is happening with hip hop in context of Cantonese perspectives. And it was a good selection to see what themes they are most interested in lyrically. Even though some of the songs seem like moral messages about making choices, I found that was just a way to talk about what the girls are facing. The girls don’t have a lot of choices or people to trust and then they get blamed like they should have made better choices. So, I thought this was a brilliant band highlighting the difficulty girls find themselves in and how judged they are.

    I know sometimes historically in China after drug culture has become widespread (like with opium) they have often resolved the situation by killing all of the addicts, so I found the “no to drugs” song sort of scary and oddly powerful. Even though it looks like good kids role modeling good behavior, there was a sad feeling for me about it. Something mandatory about it. But maybe I’m just projecting.

    I ended up liking all of your song choices. They are totally listenable… and I think so far this is my favorite post of yours for overall information, insights, and exposure to a band.

    One of the buses I ride, at certain times of day has a lot of elder Cantonese people on it and I always think their voices sound like music when the different conversations are all going on. I like listening to the tones. So I think I was already positioned to enjoy FAMA.

    Good job Ms Applesauce and thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think they’re actually that many rappers over here… in fact, I think THEY’RE the only ones that’s famous..! (If we talk about “meaningful” raps… there’s another famous ABC-rapper called “MC Jin” but I don’t think he deals with social issues like FAMA does).

      You’re right about the girl getting blamed, I probably should have added that in the song where FAMA talks about a girl getting raped by his father, there was a line, “I waited everyday, tolerated it everyday, but why is it still the same? Asked God, asked the teachers, told every social workers/counselors I could find, but they all say “you fei* girl, bad girl, liar” (“fei lui, soy lui, chui shui”)… Idk what the english equivalent to “fei girl” is, but it basically means a girl who roams the streets late at night and get back home very late. So yeah, they some songs about girls that are having a hard time getting heard.

      Hmm IIRC the song about drugs is supposed to be the “theme song” for our rehab center or something…

      Ah it’s good that you’re already positioned to enjoy FAMA! And thanks!

      Like

      1. Hahaha! Yeah. I haven’t seen him on lately. Damn. HotshotGG still stuck at level 96. I wonder what he’s doing. I’ve already been at level 99 a week already too. HAHA.

        Like

  2. My roommate exposed me to some K hip hop after studying abroad in Taiwan (she’s double majoring in Chinese), which has definitely broadened my horizons with music in the East Asian department. I may not know what they’re saying (your post helped with that haha), but I like the songs you posted! HK hip hop and Cantonese rap isn’t so bad 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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