Bohan Phoenix —

Bridging the Gap Between East and West, Hip-Hop in China


Elphick Wo, MAEKAN’s sound engineer has been doing some extensive traveling this year around China. He visited Yunan to put together a story on Wildball and spent time in Chengdu working with some rappers there. For more on that subject, check out the story we put together with David Zhou and Lucas Farrar about China’s hip-hop capitals.


While in Chengdu, Elphick caught up with rising hip-hop star, and a good friend of his, Bohan Phoenix. A relationship that started by putting beats together evolved into a friendship where Bohan Phoenix could feel comfortable talking honestly with Elphick about how owning his identity has allowed him to find a distinctive sound all his own.


Bohan Phoenix was born in Hubei, China and moved to the United States when he was eleven. Fast forward to his first forays into producing music full time after graduating from NYU, Bohan found himself wondering what his persona should be as an entertainer. He looked up to Eminem, Tupac, and Jin—but their paths weren’t directly applicable to his trajectory. Not until Bohan took ownership of his heritage and put that into his work was he able to find the kind of success he could get excited about. Now, the blend of cultures that makes up Bohan’s personality and music is putting him at the forefront of the Chinese hip-hop scene. This is the place that Bohan thinks, within five years, could become the biggest scene in the world.


OVERSEAS 海外 is Bohan Phoenix’s latest EP with production by Ryan Hemsworth, Hariki i, Mike Gao, and others. Featured on the track FALLING 地球人 is Delf, MAEKAN’s own Elphick Wo. Listen to OVERSEAS now.

“Chinese hip-hop in the past six months has changed from an underground hobby to a globally recognized phenomenon. In two to five years, this could be the biggest rap scene in the world.”

Bohan Phoenix relaxing in his bedroom in Hubei, China where the inspiration for his music happens.

“There were days where I woke up and was like, ‘What the fuck am I doing? I just went to NYU for four years, why am I rapping? My shit is half Chinese, half English; the cats don’t even know what the fuck I’m saying!’ I had no one to look to.”

“When I was struggling in New York—I was like, ‘How do I not compete anymore? Oh, I’m Chinese.’ After I started adding Chinese traits to my music I started being comfortable and I started contributing instead of just imitating.”

David Kenji Chang talks with the founder in his LA studio and new shop to talk about his life’s work and staying weird in a weird world.