B-Side China is a bi-weekly podcast monitoring the flip side of cultural stories in the PRC, initiated by Josh Feola for Radii

This week we talk about rap in China, which has been a hot topic this year and something we’ve covered in some depth at Radii. Bohan Phoenix got his start as a rapper in New York, but he’s been spending more and more of his time in China, where his bilingual Mandarin/English flow and his experience on both sides of the cultural divide have made him a rising underground star. Bohan just wrapped a 15-city China tour behind his latest JALA EP, joined for all of it by recent US transplant Allyson Toy, who pulled double duty as tour manager and DJ.

I caught up with them in Beijing, where we were joined for our chat by Brooklyn tattoo artist and rapper ItsRalphTho, who’d winged in to join the leg of the tour hitting Shanghai, Beijing, and Chengdu. We discussed megacity vibes across the US and China, what makes hip hop in China such a strong cultural force at the moment, and how music in general can function as a crucial, grassroots bridge across cultures.

Opening/closing track: Bohan Phoenix – “Product” 

Photos by William Griffith/Live Beijing Music

Thanks to Daniel Rothwell/Loreli for loaning the gear to record this podcast

Find more episodes of B-Side China here, and more Radii podcasts here

Soundcloud embed (if you’re in China, turn your VPN on):

And here’s Allyson Toy reflecting on her experiences meeting women promoters around China over the course of the tour:

These Women Promoters are Challenging the Gender Gap in China’s Music Industry