Masiwei: "Success is following your heart and doing what you love."
The rapper, who's bringing Chinese hip-hop to global heights, reflects on his passion for music, love for basketball and how all that culminated with a campaign for Hennessy.
In China, the breakthrough Chinese hip-hop group Higher Brothers usually sees thousands of fans cheer in the streets and embrace their music. Their first album, Black Cab, containing the song "Made in China", has been described as their "most famous track to date", where the video for the song went viral, receiving millions of views. The album, which drew inspiration and was named after the unlicensed black cab drivers of the group's native hometown Chengdu, placed the group on the rap-map, turning their success story into more than just a tale about four kids 'making it'; they became a part of a bigger trend towards globalisation in hip-hop.
Hennessy recently talked to Masiwei, the team leader of the group and one of the most representative figures in the Chinese hip-hop industry. The artist shared his thoughts on music, passion, and how the new Hennessy x NBA campaign ‘Game Never Stops’ has influenced him and deepened his connection to the world of basketball.
How did you start your career, and when did you know it was your passion?
When I was in high school, I got my first computer, and I started mixing up some beats and recording them. It was much more fun making music than just listening to it. Then and there, I found my passion – music – which also became my life's goal and still is today. I love hip-hop. And up to this day, I am still doing the things I love, devoting myself to a career that I'm passionate about. And that's what, if you ask me, success is: following your heart and doing what you love.
Tell us about your relationship with the NBA: where does the love for the game come from?
I started watching the NBA when I was in primary school, and I remember that Yao Ming was playing for the Rockets. And it was also then that I started to understand more about the NBA culture; I learned to play basketball, I played different NBA games online, I started collecting NBA jerseys… you can say that I'm absolutely a basketball fan!
How would you define the tagline ‘Game Never Stops’?
As long as there are people who love basketball, the game will never stop.
Tell us about some highlights shooting the NBA campaign, ‘Game Never Stops’.
I had so much fun during this shoot. I was doing what I do best – rapping non-stop in front of the mic. We also played a bit of basketball in the studio, which was fun. Hennessy, basketball, and rap are all my favourites, and it was really a fun experience!
What does basketball mean to you?
Basketball, to me, is about teamwork, the spirit of never giving up and passion.
If you could meet your favourite NBA player, what would you say to him? What song would you sing to him?
My favourite player is Allen Iverson. If I could meet him, I would say "Let's talk about practice". I would sing him my new song, "Humble Swag", because he is very humble and swag.
Do you have a favourite NBA moment?
The All-Star Game in Philadelphia in 2002. All the players wore their own team jerseys. Michael Jordan returned, and Iverson wore Number 6 as a tribute to Erving.
Tell us about your relationship with Hennessy before this campaign – when did you first discover the brand?
Hip-hop introduced Hennessy to me, and the brand is always present in the rap lyrics that I listen to and the music videos that I watch. I even forgot the first song that I heard where Hennessy was mentioned; there are just too many.
And your favourite Hennessy is…?
My favourite Hennessy is the VSOP, and I enjoy drinking it on ice.
And last but not least, if you would choose one famous quote from one of your songs to sum up your life, which one would it be?
"Dream in the day, sleep at night."
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