Watch Lay Zhang Make an Epic Comeback With ‘Lit’
The Chinese singer-songwriter and producer blends modern fashion, music and dance with traditional symbolism and instrumentals
Chinese singer-songwriter and producer Lay Zhang made a big comeback today with part one of his new album 莲, or Lit. A phonetic play on the word for lotus (lian) in Mandarin, “Lit” is a clever pun used to describe Zhang’s similarity to a lotus and his prowess as a musician. The release is led by a single of the same name and its cinematic period film-themed music video.
According to a press release, Zhang named the EP after the lotus as they are “a cultural icon recognized as something that grows and blossoms from dirt or mud. This paints a perfect metaphor of Lay’s album; firstly, the duality of a two-part release, and secondly it represents a new birth plus a new sound in the midst of all his past achievements.”
Co-produced by Zhang, “Lit” is a blend of haunting traditional Chinese instrumentals, trap and future bass, and much darker than anything Zhang has explored before. In the lyrics, Zhang is confident as he compares himself to the lotus flower, assuring audiences that no matter what difficulties he goes through, he is determined to keep rising and growing. He says, “Standing at the next level/Prepared to own my title/Turn a blind eye to the dirt/Lit [Lotus Flower] grows and blossoms out of the mud/The path I still walk/Never turning back/Level, step forward to the next level.”
The music video for “Lit” plays out like a film of epic proportions–Zhang blends modern fashion and dance with traditional Chinese symbolism and imagery. Set in ancient China, the video sees Zhang take on the role of an emperor caught in a coup as his soldiers seem to rebel against him, gathering together to fight him as he stands alone. Over the course of the clip Zhang prepares for and engages in battle alone with the army, eventually winning by tapping into the power of his spiritual animal: a dragon. The clip ends with the massive CGI dragon looming over the victorious Zhang as he stands tall on the stairs of his palace.
Comprising highly cinematic scenes of battle interspersed with crisp choreography where Zhang is dressed in modern-day high fashion apparel, the video for “Lit” is a unique showcase of a China that blends tradition with technology and innovation. The lotus flower makes prominent appearances in the video and even in the choreography itself, keeping the visuals true to the title and theme of the song.
The six-track 莲 is Zhang’s fourth EP and follows his 2019 release Honey.