Bohan Phoenix, the Chinese-born US-based rapper, is making some noise in the global hip hop scene with his bilingual rhymes and fine blend of East and West elements in his productions. His phenomenal hits such as “JALA” and collab with Higher Brothers on “No Hook” has reached over 1.2 million views on Youtube. Billboard Radio sat down with the rising rapper ahead of his debut show in Clockenflap Hong Kong and talked about his music, views on cultural hip hop and upcoming plans.
Born in China and moved to New York at 11, Bohan was exposed to the hip hop genre early on and cites Eminem as his musical inspiration. “I was so inspired by the movie ‘8 Mile’ and impressed by how Eminem was able to stand out especially in an all black environment back then.” expressed Bohan, “He is the gateway for so many people.” Bohan also gave shoutout to American rapper Vince Staples and Japanese rapper Kohh, “I like artists who are different and unique, you can’t get their music anywhere else but from them.”
Having spent half of his life in China and half in the States, Bohan’s music is unique in its way of blending the two languages, culture, as well as music elements. “Certain things are expressed better in a certain language.” said Bohan, “I’m always looking for ways to add fun chinese elements to make sure my music is not just a New York beat with Chinese rhymes. But at the same time, you don’t want to overdose and make it too tacky.” In his more recent productions such as “Overseas”, the young artist demonstrates a fine touch in balancing East and West elements and in his words, “I don’t want attention just because of diversity, I want my music fresh and tasty.”
Witnessing the massively increasing popularity of hip hop in China and rise of many local talents, Bohan believes that balance is also the key. “People are realizing there’s a lot more outside the West. With better platform and more awareness, they key next step for Chinese hip hop is to make good-quality and differentiated music.” expressed Bohan, “Some music is still at the imitation stage and need to develop its own sauce. When people say we need more representation for Asian artists, they key is always good music.”
Speaking about 2019 plans, Bohan is listening to D’Angelo lately and would like to release more groovy and funky rap tracks. He is also looking forward to his Asia tour starting March 2019.