Yin (音, “music”) is a weekly RADII feature that looks at Chinese songs spanning hip hop to folk to modern experimental, and everything in between. Drop us a line if you have a suggestion.
Bohan Phoenix is a favorite of ours over here at RADII. When you’re talking about East-West culture bridging, you can’t skip out on the man. Bohan’s the only one who can put down bars like this in both English and Mandarin, and make something iconic to both American and Chinese fans.
We’ve been following Bohan’s come-up for a long time (we even tapped his friend/DJ/collaborator TOY for an article back in October), so we’re happier than anyone to see him pushing his music and himself to new heights. That’s what we get with OVERSEAS, today’s new track announcing a full project of the same name. The Ryan Hemsworth-assisted piano sample finds Bohan hungrier and more in the pocket than ever.
He kicks off the first verse in Chinese, switching back and forth with English throughout the track:
The instrumental brings together piano, flute, and trap drum arrangements for a mature vibe, but most importantly it leaves room for Bohan’s one-of-a-kind vocal and lyrical work. Bohan’s been consistently pushing fire for a minute (in fact, he got a shout out on our Yin write-up from two weeks ago), but the OVERSEAS drop seems to represent the coming of something bigger, and not just in the literal sense of a full project.
Bohan’s flow comes down heavier than usual, and the lyrics are soaked with meaning and intent. He addresses his flux-like state as a third-culture kid, and his life changing around him as he shoots forward as a symbol. A symbol of what? It’s not totally clear yet. But it’s a symbol that speaks to listeners around the world, and one that seems more and more urgently necessary as our communicative potential as a society collapses in on itself like a dying star.
In China, the government is trying its best to sweep hip hop culture under the rug. In the states, immigrants and foreign ideas as a whole are brushed off by a White House that would prefer to fester in its own pus. Bohan’s bilingual storytelling couldn’t come at a better time.
Bohan Phoenix’s full project OVERSEAS will be dropping on March 5.
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