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  Beijing Scene

Buy-Out Banter

China's fledgling but cash-strapped music mavens are set for a fat foreign capital fix which would revolutionize the industry and give Chinese rockers the break to bask in overseas limelight. At least two name-brand vibe vultures are circling mod music genius Shen Lihui and his Modern Sky team, tempting the teetotaling tonester with wads of cash, and the lucrative promise of retaining domestic control over his funk fiefdom. Shen and his peeps have publicly shot down rampant rumors that he is "selling out" to either of the two suitors, but behind the scenes admit that any investment deal would solve a pesky cash-flow problem while leaving the founders with creative control. Word is that Sony is winning out over late-comer Warner Records, with a recent promise of RMB8-10 million for a piece of the growing Sky pie, and overseas rights to flog the new sound of Peking.

Keeping Cool

Stirring a bit of mainland mix into the Gang-Tai pop puree, Hunan supermodel/moviestar Qu Ying has hit Hong Kong with a diverse dub of mandomush and tear-jerking tone poems on BMG records. Following her fast-selling 1998 debut Don't Rush the svelte ex-MTV VJ has tapped out the sap with her new release Peacock, leaving no cliche unturned in a compelling quest for China cheese. Winning national notoriety for her whiplash wardrobe changes in Zhang Yimou's 1997 handycammed Keep Cool, Qu is increasingly flitting the edge of overseas fame, recently winning lucrative contracts to slog Ericsson phones and Maybelline face paint in Asiawide print and television ads.

Just No Other Way

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pop paradise straits, mandomuffin Coco Lee has weighed in as the first-ever Taiwan redhead to take potshots at the Stateside music melee with an all-English Sony records release. Slinking from rap-riddled R&B to coquettish croon at bodygrooving 90 beats per minute, Just No Other Way is Coco's first attempt to reverse the west-east culture flow, and blast some Chinastyle onto the American bandstand. Boasting trademark rich vocal vibrato and funkyfat backside, the album has already won a major Hollywood movie placement and is expected to boost Coco's cred from wannabe cross-over queen to intercontinental scenester.

International Noise Conspiracy

Stoking the smouldering Chinarock fire, Sweden-born punk prophet Johnny Kwan (aka Leijonhufvud) is beating a third path to the ears of alternative rock fans with plans for a new-new Beijing-based noise factory. After four years of peddling aural dope in Hong Kong, Johnny will bring his pioneering Ling Lao Recording Syndicate to China, where he plans to foster and feed the growing sonic scene. The move will add to a growing list of China's "new music" agents provocateurs, many of which started off the year with an album-release bang, but soon ran low on creative capital, stemming the beat flow. Founded in 1995 by Johnny and a circus-phreak friend, Ling Lao proved its mainland mettle earlier this year by organizing the tri-city tour of vegan vibesters International Noise Conspiracy. The company also holds the Asia distribution rights to a host of hardcore favorites, including D.C. fusionfour Fugazi.

Bootleg Faust

And finally, badboy of Beijing theater Meng Jinghui has struck a blow to critics who scoff, snide and snobber at his sardonic pisstakes on life in modernizing China. Loosing his literal guns after a recent performance of his small-theater play-play production Bootleg Faust, Meng dissed the thespian elite and held high the banner of "hooligan culture". "I'm a rebel. I like it, and I'm going to keep on being a rebel," Meng retorted with a smile after audience members questioned his now-notorious discordant directorial style. Meng's comments won hearty applause from the more bohemian members of the crowd, and sent pop pundits into revisionist rhapsody as they re-evaluated the need for Beijing to nurture its unique street wit in the new millennium.


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