Rapping Flight Attendant
Through “anonymous sources” I’ve been hearing for a while now about how unhappy the flight attendants at China Eastern are. They have little job security, their lives are not their own, and they get treated terribly by both passengers and management. Don’t worry, though, I’m not going to start pretending I’m a journalist. This is just the context which has produced the following MP3:
Passengers aren’t God
The rap is in Shanghainese, and it’s basically a flight attendant venting about passengers and their attitudes. The first verse goes something like this (my apologies in advance for the translation):
Ah, poor me, poor me
Let me sing about it like a bird (yeah)
Why are there so many morons in our society today?
They think just because they’ve got some money
They’re all big and bad
Know what pal? I can’t do everything
Don’t get on my plane and cause a big fuss
You’ll know I mean it
When I smack you upside the head
Damn, what do you want?
Filing complaints at the slightest thing
Who do you think you are?
You’re a moron (yeah), a moron
The young lady who raps in this song has quite a few other tunes as well, which have made the rounds at China Eastern and are now getting around on the Chinese internet in general. My source tells me that at first the singer succeeded in staying anonymous, but then she was caught writing lyrics on the job by co-workers. There are actually several girls involved. My source does not know of any repurcussions that the writers have suffered thus far.
I’m not going to bother translating the whole song into English, but I recommend you give it a listen. It’s really quite professionally done (a little “borrowing” from Eminem aside), and the background vocals are funny. It also has a cute ending.
Below you’ll find a Mandarin version of the lyrics which a friend wrote out for me, followed by the “Shanghainese” lyrics which were posted online. The “Shanghainese” lyrics are pretty annoying because they’re written phonetically — things like 弄 being used for 侬, 进早 for 今朝, etc. Anyway, I didn’t write any of these, so I can’t guarantee their accuracy. If anyone wants to make corrections (Naus?), they’d be welcome.
《旅客不是上帝》lyrics in standard Mandarin:
这里是我的地盘，就是我最大(big big yeah yeah)
快点快点快点帮我去睡~~~~~~get out. shit.
Ladies and gentlemen, our aircraft will be landing soon. Please be seated and make sure that your seatbelt is securely fastened and your mobile phone has been switched off. Thank you for flying with China Eastern Airlines today, and we are looking forward to having you onboard again. Thank you and goodbye.
《旅客不是上帝》lyrics in pseudo-Shanghainese:
歌德是我额底盘就我最大(big big yeah yeah)
快点快点快点高我起捆~~~~~~get out shit
– Zanhe.com – your online source for Shanghainese.
– Sinosplice post on Shanghainese rap on ShanghaiNing.com.
– Sinosplice Shanghainese Soundboard
Dude. She’s got mad skills. I wish I could understand Shanghainese.
a hoooorrible woman~~I wish I would never be a passenger of this flight,at least never be “her passenger” God bless me!
Wow, I’m impressed! I arrived at this site after surfing through an Asian Blog Award Voting shit.
What’s it like in Shanghai these days? It’s been many many years… too many things have changed.
the written shanghainese is unreadable. i look at the words and i don’t understand them. then i read them out and they all of a sudden they make sense. yes, this is a bad phonetic transcription when the words actually exist to write them properly.
This just made my day. I only wish I could understand the funny moon-man language she’s rapping in.
Dude, I don’t understand a thing she said or, for that matter, the Chinese lyrics you published. But this girl needs a record deal, cuz she’s got it down.
Like the alternating Japanese/English logo – very cool.
I associate Shanghainese with being rebellious (anti-bureaucracy and anti-Beijing), I guess the singer of this song too. It’s made my day.
册那 I believe means fu*k rather than damn.
im so jealous. i didnt know you can rap in shanghainese!!?? i thought you had to butcher proper mandarin to be able to rap in chinese.
you can hear more of her rapping in shanghaining.com
Which one is she? I didn’t see any likely candidates (EZ Fly is not her), and I didn’t see this song.
I actually wrote about the rap on ShanghaiNing.com a while ago; seems like it’s coming along.
Her Shanghainese is not butchered at all, the tones are all correct, I can completely understand her without looking at the “lyrics” John has. It’s embarrassing but for most Mandarin songs, I have to look at lyrics, otherwise it’s often gibberish, and I’ve spoken Mandarin since 4. I think for this reason, Shanghainese is superior in songs (don’t flame me), because there is a heavy aural connection. The worst is Cantonese music, which is very literary, it’s usually unintelligible for Cantonese speakers before they look at the lyrics.
I think the reason Shanghainese is able to not bastardize itself in order to sing the melody is because its tones are really versatile in the first place. So it can remain perfectly comprehensible while singing the pitches of the melody. This is a very superior characteristics for singing songs I think.
No one is questioning the singer’s Shanghainese, but rather the “butchered” Chinese characters used to write the “Shanghainese” lyrics.
I actually speak Shanghainese. This is hilarious. It is brillant how creative they took Eminem’s “real slim shady”‘s track to feat.
hahaha it’s hilarious especially if you can understand it. i can almost picture the singer in my mind.
on the second run of the song, i realized she sounds like my ex-gf (sorry not in airline business though)
bad link again, john, i can’t open the file
i love the lyrics, it’s interesting when you say it in shanghai dialect. i can understand the flight attendant. she is mad with those arrogant passengers. i have met such passengers before, they should in jail insteadof a jet.
merry spring festival (to those who live in shanghai) and happy new year!
See all those comments above yours? All those people had no problem downloading the file. I downloaded it at work today, too. Please try again.
her handle is “Lilyining” on shanghaining
she got a handful of songs
john, you should send many of your findings to here:
Who knows rap music can be this adorable. It is Shanghaiese not mandarin? I am half Shanghaiese but I don’t understand either Mandarin or Shanghaiese, so I can’t tell the difference.
eswn, you are SO amazing. I could barely finish reading the dream of red chamber for one thing =), and you seem to be an expert on everything else under the sun, from the issue of Tibet to stories in Latin America.
Not bad, but why are some of the lyrics in English? That’s something I don’t understand about modern Chinese pop music: why they always insert English words in their songs. It’s the most annoying [feces]! Chinese people need to stop being so enamored of something Western just because it’s Western! The day all Chinese pop artists start singing all-Mandarin songs would be the day the Chinese discard their sense of inferiority.
When shanghainese speaks their dialect quickly, it sounds like a foreign language(in daily life i mean).
i haven’t liked shanghai girls until now. easter air sucks but our singsong shanghai chick rocks! does she need a job?
Well, I was originally from Shanghai. The translation wasn’t good enough. As matter of fact, we still use the Mandarin characters, but speak in a local regional vernacular. So it takes a while for me to make out the lyrics.
Still, this rap is hilarious, and my sides hurt. 🙂
Da Xiangchang: First, it’s not just modern Chinese pop, but lots of pop in Asia that uses English words or lyrics. Man, you should see (or hear, rather) J-pop! Korean pop is also pretty ‘bad’ for it, if you want to say that it’s bad. What’s more, the song is dissing the job for China Eastern Airlines, and I believe the flight attendants would be required to speak both English and at least one other Asian language, so it fits into the rant appropriately. Finally, I think most artists who use English lyrics/words in songs, as well as pop culture in Asia in general, feel throwing in a bit of English here and there is hip. I thought this song was great, though I didn’t understand a word of it. Time to study!
She is not a good rap singer. I’m shanghainese and this shanghainese singer is crap.
love that song! those girls totally deserve to vent…i can just imagine all the passengers with their LV bags…arg! i wish there was a Mandarin version so I could understand tho…! maybe your “anonymous source” could make a request, he he.
I know a few flight attendants and everything the song says is true true true! Once this guy wrote some complaint and the whole crew had Y1,000 deducted from their pay. My friend was given the phone number of the customer to follow up and he said he didn’t even remember what he complained about. The flight attendants show amazing patience and intestinal fortitude.
It’s so frustrating to see passengers popping open the overhead bins 2-seconds after touchdown.
That song is the shits, yah-go girl, yah-hao bu hao…. it’s going on the iPod.
mad props!!! hahaha
Putting a big link to this great page from my site! Hope that’s ok 🙂
Now that this story is a few years old, how did it turn out for our flight attendants?
LOL! That was great! I think this would be a good song for all flight attendants who are feeling the pinch from both sides.
Great Job Girls!
Just found out about this, great song:-)
You guys do realise that Chinese has an indigenous version of rap, known as Kuaiban?
During the Cultural Revolution, kuaiban was regularly used to convey propaganda. My mother, who worked in propaganda, can still perform kuaiban on cue to amuse guests.
In my view, each language or each dialect is suited for specific poetic and musical forms. In former times, each form was perfected through years of experimentation. Back then, performing art was intensive and high-quality.
Today, the music industry has no integrity. It produces excessively, recruiting audience through advertisement rather than talent. Therefore, most songs do not deserve a second hearing.
Having heard a slew of Mandarin rap at the behest of a trend-conscious cousin, I must say that rap is entirely inappropriate for Mandarin. From the music industry’s viewpoint, rap is simply a cheaper way to produce cheap music.
Of course, there is no understanding of free-style rap in China. This further lowers my opinion of Mandarin rap.
I agree with you that Shanghaiese is a superior music medium. On the other hand, I esteem Cantonese songs very much. I actually like old Cantonese songs specifically for the literary quality, which you dislike.
I usually have no problem figuring out the lyrics by listening. Perhaps this is because I spent my childhood in Hong Kong.
Many southern dialects can sound very literary. This is because of the wenbai yidu phenomenon. I find them very pleasing and elegant.
ROFL! This might be the funniest thing I’ve heard all month. I’m Shanghainese but grew up in NYC and this is the first time I’ve heard rapping in Shanghainese. Props to her for being so creative in her venting. I’ll never look at flight attendants the same now.
What’s with all the haters? I’d like to hear them do better.