China's favorite dissident, Ai Weiwei, is making a rock album.
Dubbed "Shen Qu," or "Divine Comedy," the album will trace back to the 81 days Ai spent in prison without a charge. When he was asked to sing by guards he realized he never sang before and that the only songs he knew were revolutionary songs.
From the New York Times blog Ai stated he's mixing pop and rock with heavy metal. I'm curious whether his characterization of "heavy metal" traces the likes of Black Sabbath, the industrial feel of Nine Inch Nails, or if its something more dissonant.
There's a good chance that any modern piece of music referencing Dante will sound echo prog rock (Radiohead's Hail to the Thief comes to mind), but Mr. Ai will be collaborating with friend and artist Zuoxiao Zuzhou, who has been called China's Leonard Cohen.
The album will be referencing issues and politics surrounding the modern Chinese republic from the blind rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng to web censorship. A few months ago Elton John dedicated his concert in Beijing to Ai Wei Wei, further infuriating the Chinese government. After Elton John's comment, China's culture ministry requires all foreign performers to have at least a university degree.
Shen Qu will be released in three weeks, according to his interview with Reuters today.