Chinese rapper Beibei came under fire this week when he severed his own pinky on a livestream. The hip hop artist was trying to prove his innocence in a sexual harassment scandal, and undertook the dramatic gesture as a show of his dedication. It looks like that may have backfired on him now.
Beibei, whose real name is Li Jingze, was livestreaming from the Shaanxi province of China on Aug. 5. He was discussing the allegations of sexual misconduct against him, according to a report by Billboard. The rapper stands accused of having sex with fans, and for some reason he felt that sacrificing his pinky would prove his innocence for some reason.
As it turns out, the self-mutilation violated China's internet streaming regulations. The 24-year-old rapper did not show the wound on the screen, but he did hold up his bloody hand afterward. This was also against the rules for the music platform Yizhibo, where the stream was broadcast.
Jingze was already facing accusations of extreme cyberbullying, and this incident only pushed that further as fans felt that had been bombarded with imagery they did not need to see. He has over 720,000 followers on Yizhibo, and 150,000 people were in his WeChat before he cut his pinky. Afterwards, the chat skyrocketed to 680,000 people.
Jingze is a rising star in the underground rap scene in China, mostly known for his freestyle skills. He is part of a collective known as Huonghuahui, or HHH, based in Xi'an. HHH's prominence took a huge leap after Tuesday's stream as well, with some hashtags reaching about 70 million people.
China's Association of Performing Arts is reportedly taking action, not just against Jingze but against rap music in general. Sources told Billboard that they are banning rappers from membership, and HHH soon announced that it was shutting down altogether.
The group also noted that Jingze suffers from a thyroid disease, which can cause mood swings. Speaking to Billboard, Iron Mic in China founder Dana Tiago Burton took it even further. Burton, who helped Jingze in the early days of his career, said that the youth in China face enormous cultural pressure, especially if they want a career in the arts.
"The pressures of life for young people in China can be daunting. If you add in pop culture, fandom and social media pressures, it can be overwhelming," Burton said. "There is so such much stigma and taboo around this topic. Beibei didn't win all of his rap battles, but this is one battle I sincerely hope he wins. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and far more important than fame or perceived success."