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Bohan Phoenix, 'New York Made Me'

"Too foreign for here, too foreign for home" is how Hubei-born rapper Bohan Phoenix describes straddling two different worlds; he moved to the U.S. at age 11. Undeterred, he's spent the last decade cultivating a bicultural audience by deftly weaving between Mandarin and English. Phoenix has made a name for himself collaborating with Chinese hip-hop group Higher Brothers and, during 2020's Black Lives Matter protests, voiced the rallying cry for Chinese rappers to give back to the culture that had launched their careers.

Under a cascade of funk and with a charismatic presence, "New York Made Me" celebrates Phoenix's immigrant experience. The SPUDNYC-directed video features a montage of New Yorkers who represent the eclectic and international fabric of the city that's influenced him. The rhythm of his words are both leisurely and confident as he makes it clear that he hasn't lost that scrappy hunger that's pushed his work towards recognition: "给我 / That's the attitude / This city got me feeling like I gotta prove."

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Jireh Deng