I’ve had incredible luck pulling tons of Chinese hip hop songs off the web recently. While I haven’t heard nearly enough to know everything, I think I’m starting to hear some regional differences. For sure there are regional differences in attitudes and characteristics in the people; it makes sense that it would be reflected in their music.
I ran across an interesting podcast where this one guy is talking to 杨帆 an MC from the hip hop group 功夫. They start talking about language and words and they get into how people from the South (which they identified as anyone south of Beijing) come up to Beijing and start adding “-er” and “-cher” after everything they say to blend in or be cool.
This happens in hip hop as well. In 2004, Taiwanese R&B star Jay Chou came out with <> as the title track to . That song got a lot of buzz because he used a very heavy Beijing accent.
Likewise, I found this guy 张伯宏 who is a singer in mainland China, but spent much of his youth abroad, who released his own song <> with a heavy Beijing accent to a lot of buzz.
I’m assuming that the difference that you hear is that the Beijing native stuff sounds a lot more mainstream and normal whereas the other stuff had a more exotic spin to it. I’m not sure what it means, but there’s a part of me that thinks artists outside of Beijing still see it as the cultural capital of China – but in an old and traditional kind of way.