KUZI’s variety show was going to start broadcasting two months later and would be filmed in a fully enclosed area. There were no special circumstances that would allow participating musicians to leave the base.
Ji Sheng packed up his things early in the morning and walked to the door with the newly bought suitcase.
Xie Xuanming, planning to go out or something, stood at the door straightening his cuffs, quite in the way.
Ji Sheng bent over and pushed the suitcase, saying casually: “Is there a trip so early today?”
Xie Xuanming said coldly: “I have a lot of trips.”
It meant ‘I am red and I have the resources. Don’t speculate about it, you losers who sit at home with your feet up’.
Ji Sheng understood the hint and said obediently: “Okay.”
The driver had not yet arrived, and Ji Sheng leaned against the door with his luggage, raising his eyes to look out.
Xie Xuanming glanced at him: “Do you want to go so much?”
Ji Sheng didn’t expect that he would take the initiative to talk to him and replied in a daze: “No, I’m afraid I’ll be late.”
Xie Xuanming snorted perfunctorily, obviously not accepting such an excuse. He also looked out. The road was empty, with no one leaving and absolutely no one coming back.
Ji Sheng looked at him; Xie Xuanming’s tall and straight nose was particularly eye-catching. In a flash of light, a lonely look rippled over his face, sliding down from his brows to his lips and disappearing.
Ji Sheng was fascinated and asked a forbidden question:
“After I move out, will you miss me?”
Xie Xuanming turned his head, gave him a ghost-like glance and frowned: “Don’t flatter yourself.”
Probably thinking that he had slept with him some time ago and it was not very convincing to say this, Xie Xuanming added: “I have someone I like.”
Ji Sheng felt he was going to have a heart attack. He didn’t want to face the dismal fact that he had unintentionally bent the child and made the unlucky boy be in love with him for years.
He blurted out: “You can like someone else.”
Xie Xuanming frowned harder, his expression filled with incredulity of having someone stomp all over his feelings.
Ji Sheng thought for a few moments that he was going to be scolded or even beaten, but Xie Xuanming did not do anything in the end.
“Don’t even think about it.”
He turned and walked out, leaving Ji Sheng alone.
Ji Sheng looked at his back and sighed for no reason.
The driver parked the car and honked the horn to remind him.
Ji Sheng picked up the suitcase and walked there.
KUZI’s recording location was in the suburbs, and the road was very long.
Ji Sheng watched the scenery outside the window change from a green forest to high-rise buildings to a green forest again and yawned. His eyelids dropped several times and he couldn’t hold them open and fell into a deep sleep.
The bumpy drive stirred his long-forgotten memories. In a daze, Ji Sheng dreamed of the first time he had participated in KUZI’s variety show a few years ago.
Three years ago, “Music First” was recorded live.
The band on the stage was a mess, the melody and the drums chaotic. Amplified by the stereo, this magical sound poured over the heads of the misfortunate listeners.
The mentor shook his head gently and the contestants in the audience frowned, their faces like masks of pain. In short, everyone was very unhappy.
Two minutes later, the torturous experience finally was over, and Ji Sheng’s frowning eyebrows relaxed.
The band’s guitar and bass skills were actually good, but the drummer’s level was too poor. He started missing beats ten seconds or so into the song and then got worse and worse, until taking the show all the way to the abyss.
The mentor’s comments were basically euphemisms to smooth things over, so Ji Sheng lost interest after listening to a couple of sentences and quietly reached out and patted Sheng Kongchi’s shoulder beside him, moving to his ear and speaking softly:
“This drummer has such poor basic skills——”
The connected microphone carried his sharp commentary throughout the recording.
Ji Sheng: ……
Sheng Kongzhi: ……
Drummer on the stage: …… T T
Sheng Kongzhi covered the microphone and whispered, “The program microphone is connected all the way.”
Ji Sheng wanted to cry without tears: “Why didn’t you say it earlier?”
Sheng Kongzhi said angrily: “You didn’t ask.”
The two of them were whispering below when the drummer, who had been taken up the stage for criticism, let out a cry.
“I know that I have many shortcomings.” The drummer held the microphone, fighting back tears in his eyes, “I will work hard, please give me some time.”
There were reasons why this drummer could participate in the show with such bad skills.
One was that he had a backer, and the other was that he was good-looking indeed, and his eyes full of tears easily made people feel pity.
No matter what the reason was, the judges had to be biassed.
Wang Juan, the show’s mentor, was politely praising the drummer’s potential, when she was interrupted by Ji Sheng. She felt so humiliated that she turned her head and locked her gaze on Ji Sheng in the audience, saying unpleasantly, “Although this drummer does need to improve his strength, his attitude is very good. But on the contrary, this contestant, interrupting while the mentor is talking and rashly commenting on the performance of another participant, is very rude.”
The camera on the recording set focused on Ji Sheng.
The drone camera floated over, and Sheng Kongzhi broke into a cold sweat.
After graduation, Li Tan approached him and said that he had encountered an opportunity to make a fortune and saved up money to start a small music company, calling it Qingchu. He wanted to call all the original team back to reorganise the band. But Su Jing was unable to participate because of e-sports, and with Xie Xuanming, he simply couldn’t get in touch. Li Tan looked for him left and right, and finally gave up and asked Sheng Kongzhi and Ji Sheng if they would like to join.
Sheng Kongzhi had no intention to do so, but Ji Sheng insisted, so he agreed.
Originally, he thought that joining the company would be like going to a bar to sing and play in his spare time as before. Who knew that KUZI would hold a variety show to select musicians in less than half a year, and the attention would be so high. Coincidentally, Li Tan found an opportunity and sent him and Ji Sheng in.
Ji Sheng was very happy to participate in the show. As long as he could beat a drum, he would be so carefree and silly that Sheng Kongzhi couldn’t help but worry about his lack of ambition.
Sheng Kongzhi was far less relaxed than Ji Sheng. On the one hand, he was sure that “Music First” was a golden opportunity and their performance could definitely change the trajectory of his and Ji Sheng’s lives. On the other hand, he had watched other variety shows under KUZI’s brand and that caused him a lingering fear. KUZI’s malicious editing was very scary, and it was a common practice to step on players with no background and promote those with a backer.
Both he and Ji Sheng came from a small company with no background, and now Ji Sheng had jumped out…
It was just begging to be used as raw material for editing.
Meanwhile, a few sentences into the conversation between Wang Juan and Ji Sheng, Wang Juan asked him to come on stage and prove himself, and Ji Sheng agreed.
“So, what repertoire are you going to perform? Do you need a sound teacher to prepare?”
Before Ji Sheng answered, Sheng Kongzhi grabbed his wrist and shook his head slightly.
Ji Sheng glanced at him in surprise, didn’t understand the meaning and continued:
“No need. The track performed by the player just now, can the guitar and bass cooperate please?”
The bass and guitar on stage nodded.
Wang Juan was shocked: “Have you practised this song too?”
“I haven’t practised.” Ji Sheng said, “The rhythm is quite sloppy, so freestyle will be fine.”
Wang Juan and the mentor beside her looked at each other: “Okay, come on up.”
Ji Sheng got up and asked Sheng Kongzhi, who looked pale and defeated, “What’s the matter?”
“It’s fine…” Sheng Kongzhi was helpless.
Now that it was impossible to stop it, it could only be seen whether Ji Sheng could generate some value other than the material for malicious editing.
Sheng Kongzhi sighed and let go of his wrist: “Play well.”
“Of course I will.” Ji Sheng raised his eyebrows, walked through the auditorium and got on the stage.
He first said hello to the mentors, then bowed to the guitar and bass, and then sat on the drum chair.
Sheng Kongzhi glanced at the camera. This segment was filmed. Whether it would be broadcast depended on whether the program team was willing to give Ji Sheng a chance.
Ji Sheng sat down on the chair and realized that he didn’t bring drumsticks. He raised his head and asked the drummer, “Can I borrow your drumsticks, please?”
With his back to the camera, all the fragile innocence that the little white flower drummer was selling disappeared, replaced by disdain and malice. He lowered his voice and said angrily: “What kind of trouble are you looking for, so anxious to step on me to get to the top? My company has connections, do you believe that this segment won’t even be broadcast?”
Ji Sheng was also stunned for a moment by this man’s superb skill of changing his face worthy of Peking Opera. But having been around in society, it was not as if he’d never seen a demon or a ghost before, so he quickly accepted the fact that the harmless little white flower was actually a two-faced guy.
Ji Sheng stretched his hand forward without changing his expression: “To broadcast or not to broadcast, you have to play it first.”
Little white flower that turned black glared at him fiercely and stuffed the drumsticks in his hand rudely: “I have custom drumsticks. Can you afford it if you break it? Poor sod!”
Ji Sheng ignored him, took the drumsticks, thanked him, tapped the drum a few times to familiarise himself with the feel, and then nodded to the waiting bass and guitar.
When the music sounded, Ji Sheng lightly raised his hands.
The slender drumsticks revolved in the equally slender fingers, their front ends falling steadily on the drum surface.
In the first seconds of the drums joining the melody, the mentors’ expressions completely changed.
Someone asked on an anonymous forum how to judge whether a drummer was good.
The answer was simple.
It depended on whether the audience would directly focus on the drummer from the moment the drums started.
Ji Sheng was undoubtedly an excellent drummer.
As soon as his drums flared, his stable, hard rhythm strongly overshadowed the melody and slammed straight into the audience’s ears.
Wang Juan unconsciously pressed her ears back.
According to the instructions of the management, the trashy little white flower had to be guaranteed a place. Inviting Ji Sheng to play, she thought there would be no surprises from this impromptu performance. Even if the performance was okay, some details and little mistakes could be grasped and amplified by editing, elevating the little white flower in the process.
However, there were no mistakes. Both the rhythm stability and the stage presence were impeccable.
Wang Juan hesitantly took a look at the director hiding in the dark. If this continued, the situation would get out of control. Now she could still call a halt to recover, but later…
She was afraid that the script of the show would be greatly changed.
Wang Juan looked at the director, but the director didn’t pay attention to her.
He was staring intently at the drummer on the stage, rubbing his fingers on the intercom, as if thinking about something.
The music reached a climax with Ji Sheng quickly beating the corresponding drums. With a twist of the drumsticks, he added a dazzling technique to the excitement, making the already tight rhythm even tighter, the dense drumbeat taking away the listeners’ breath.
The bass drew out a long note and Ji Sheng took advantage of the gap to stop his movements and embrace the light with his arms wide open.
The audience was at first stunned and then abuzz with applause from the watching contestants; a few excited ones even jumped up and down, shouting their approval.
Amidst cheers, Ji Sheng lowered his eyes and continued to beat the last freestyle, jamming the end of the bass note with an accent to end the perfect presentation.
Wang Juan moved her lips lightly, then turned to look at the director again.
The director seemed serious, rubbing his fingers over the intercom some more, before his frown finally dissipated and he lifted his hand to the intercom and instructed:
“Keep this segment.”
On the stage, Ji Sheng got up, bowed and turned to the little white flower.
The little white flower looked ugly, his clear features grey and dull, his whole face purple.
He thought, full of unwillingness, I haven’t lost yet. I will propose an additional test and ask the director to play the recording. I will definitely be able to overcome the kid who came from who knows where.
He was about to shout out but was stopped by Ji Sheng.
“Thank you for the drumsticks.” Ji Sheng smiled, saying it at the volume that the microphone could record.
He handed the drumsticks, took advantage of the situation and dragged the little white flower into his arms, covered the mic and spoke softly:
“Don’t stick to custom drumsticks, sign up for a class to practice basic skills, it’s not expensive.”
Ji Sheng patted the little white flower on the back and said softly and sincerely:
“By the way, at your current level, even if you fake drum, your hand speed can’t keep up with the beat.”