In China, a green hat is a sign of infidelity; few would choose to wear one, save in protest. This is exactly what Tzusing does, using 绿帽 Green Hat to expose concepts of toxic masculinity, gender stereotypes and antiquated expectation. Daniel Day Lewis’ infamous milkshake monologue is the opening salvo, as ugly as it gets, drawing a line across the world to the United States; the problems are not unique to China. One can only imagine the toxic clubber reveling in this track, dancing with evil intention, perverting the purpose of the piece. But read the titles in English, and a pattern begins to form: “Idol Baggage,” “Muscular Theology,” “Filial Endure Ruthless.” The first of these tracks is marked by merciless laughter, the type often directed toward those who seem “weaker.” The second, which could be used as background music for weightlifting, suggests that many consider a powerful body to be the definition of manliness. Tribe-like grunts punctuate the lesson. The third connects such ideas to ancestry, suggesting that they have been passed down not out of truth, but deference.
The irony is that the album itself is muscular and aggressive, the beats as hard as those found in industrial music. The “hey”s of “Balkanize” are like sport or military chants, backed by a sound very similar to the aforementioned milkshake. Tzusing uses the form of masculinity to discuss masculinity, an idea that might be lost on the dancing masses; and dance they will, because 绿帽 Green Hat is an album of powerful, and perhaps empowering percussion. Will the gender-non-conforming male relate to these grooves? When swords clash in “Clout Tunnel (feat. Soda),” will listeners think of defying stereotypes, or participating in them? The line is extremely thin.
As a dance album, 绿帽 Green Hat is a pounding success. For those who wish to dig deeper, it has much more to declare as well. Even the label admits that club patrons may dance first, and think later; but wouldn’t it be wonderful if they did both, reclaiming the green hat as a symbol of pride rather than of shame? (Richard Allen)