The Sun Rises in the East: Sample Chinese Folk, Jazz, Opera & more


The Sun Rises in the East: Sample Chinese Folk, Jazz, Opera & more

Madlib's brother Oh No sampled from it, Ghostface Killah, Young M.A., and MF DOOM all rapped over it, and RZA didn't even know this goldmine existed: China Record Corporation, over a century worth of recorded material in traditional music, Far East jazz, Mongolian folk, and more originals.




December 8, 2021

China Record Corporation is the oldest and biggest record company in the country with over 5.000 years of musical history and over 60.000 releases. Their catalog even includes some of the oldest known recordings in China. Tobias J. Record is CRC's Managing Director, and shares some of China Record Corporation's finest best-kept-secrets:

The catalog of China Record Corporation is extremely vast. Do you have any pointers for producers on where to start their deep digs?

The traditional instrumentals in China Record Corporation's catalog are great sources for sampling. The catalog has a lot of Chinese-centric sounds, rhythm-heavy instruments such as on "Dragon Boat" by He Shufeng.

Before World War II, Shanghai was the New Orleans of the Orient so there are amazing old-timey jazz tunes that are massively famous in China and Asia but virtually unknown here or in the West. Personally, not a single genre of Chinese music bests another. The deep religious chimes and bells are just as amazing as the Chinese classical, Tibetan, Mongolian, et cetera. It’s all worth the deep dive and chances are nobody else has gotten to the tunes before to chop up. Not even RZA knew this catalog existed.

You previously mentioned that you have found immense similarities between Chinese music and music from around the world. Can you give a couple of examples based on today’s music?

Mongolian folk music shares an uncanny bond with Celtic folk music. Listen to the band Hanggai, to name one:

Shanghai Jazz from the 1930s is reminiscent of a Looney Tunes/Carl Stalling meets Edith Piaf flavor—only in Mandarin instead of French. Movie star and singer Bai Hong is a great example of that:

Who are some of the artists who have sampled music from the China Record Corporation before?

We did a Grand Theft Auto project with Madlib’s brother Oh No around ten years ago. Egon hooked it up when he was General Manager over at Stones Throw when I was living in Los Angeles. Oh No came to our studio for a few sessions and chopped up a ton of samples from the catalog. In the end, Ghostface and MF DOOM (RIP) spit bars over one of the Chinese instrumental orchestral tracks for the GTA: Chinatown Wars theme.

Young M.A. chopped up an instrumental fairly recently through Tracklib. And boom-bap producer Mr. Green is familiar with the catalog along with other producers for dance, techno, downbeat—you name it.

Another producer who's sampled from this catalog is Rockwilder. In a fan-favorite episode of Mass Appeal's Rhythm Roulette, he sampled "Opinions of History (Shi Guan)" by Xu Peidong to create his neck-snapping beat.

What does sampling mean to you personally?

Sampling is a creative extension, like another instrument. Just like hip-hop’s genesis itself, sampling is a product of invention by way of necessity—and sometimes by accident. Kids who might not have been able to afford guitars, amps, or drums suddenly had access to two turntables, a mic, and a universe of recorded sounds on wax, begging to be re-interpreted and combined to form entirely new and exciting rhythms and sounds. Plus, sampling has the ability to bring in older sets of people who recognize certain sounds as being familiar and newly appreciated. Think of Guru’s Jazzmatazz, for example.

Why have you decided to add China Record Corporation’s catalog to Tracklib?

The catalog of China Record Corporation is a massive body of unsampled instrumentals, traditional music, and vocals from one of the world’s oldest cultures. It’s an amusement park full of sounds waiting to be ridden.

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