Ai Weiwei: Artist, Dissident, Rock Musician?

Ai Weiwei, the outspoken Chinese artist and dissident, will release a heavy-metal album

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David Gray / Reuters

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei in the courtyard of his studio in Beijing on June 20, 2012

First, he came out with a “Gangnam Style” video, now Ai Weiwei is dabbling in music — heavy-metal music.

The outspoken Chinese sculptor, who was jailed for 81 days in 2011 by Chinese authorities, has announced that he is releasing an album of metal-tinged songs with music by rock musician and friend, Zuoxiao Zuzhou, according to the Guardian.

The inspiration for his latest foray in music: his incarceration. Ai told the Guardian that when his guards asked him to sing, he realized that he knew only Chinese revolutionary songs. “After I came out, I realized I had never really listened to music or sung, so I decided to make an album,” Ai said. “I know so many artists and musicians and they were really supportive.”

The album will also feature two songs about the blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng and a track called “The Great Firewall of China,” about the Chinese government blocking websites it considers dangerous.

(VIDEO: Artist, Yes, Dancer, No: Ai Weiwei Does ‘Gangnam Style’)

The novice musician told the Guardian that he would seek the advice of his friend Elton John in order to distribute his album, which will be released in about three weeks. Last November, John angered Chinese authorities by dedicating a concert in Beijing to Ai, and in February, the Chinese artist reciprocated by creating a video clip, “Love Is in My Blood,” for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the New York Times reported.

Ai told Reuters he isn’t worried about government persecution for his album, but he also isn’t optimistic about the prospects of it being sold in China.

(MORE: The Artist Who Can’t Leave China: An Interview with Ai Weiwei)