Written By: Fletcher Bonin
Bohan Phoenix is everything that’s going right in the underground New York rap scene right now. This Chinese rapper based out of Brooklyn is doing the rap we love with a different flavor. To be fair, this flavor is ‘extra spicy’ as their latest digital EP is entitled JALA, perhaps short for jalapeno, as his pepper-adorned album artwork would denote. But his sound is exactly that: extra spicy. His spitfire flows trip rapidly over choppy beats. His lyrics are complex and thought provoking if you can pick them apart, he rhymes quickly over each track.
His sound is diverse and intriguing, simultaneously mainstream in style and arrangement while also being totally new and different from anything you’ve heard before. On some tracks Bohan Phoenix’s rat-a-tat gunshot flows and irreverent backbeat mixes call to mind the likes of A$AP Rocky. On other tracks they slow things down and invite you into trippy soundscapes with Rae Sremmurd style loose, laconic flows. In any case, Bohan Phoenix is certainly exploiting the power of their new and creative sound on this latest EP. JALA EP is fiery and unapologetic, with unrelenting trap style flows and darkly powerful instrumental arrangements.
For a sample of his harder stuff, check out songs like the title track, ‘Jala’. Over simple yet hard-hitting beat selections, he raps, “They wanna know where I’m from, I take them there overseas, and over there I’m the plug, if you got love put it on me.” he then continues into the chanting refrain, “I give you that jala jala.” This song is very much in the style of Atlanta’s current trap scene, pairing similar themes of drugs, women, money and being young and reckless with earworm hooks. Another great track in this style is the club-ready ‘Group Exercise’.
But for me, I’m a bigger fan of his slower stuff. It seems to me that on these tracks better highlight their original sound. My two favorites off of JALA EP are ‘Eastside’ and ‘3 Days in Chengdu’. On ‘Eastside’, which features Chauncey, Bohan Phoenix croons, “I could I could bring you down to the east side, I could I could you around I’ll be your guide, I could show you what I know if you just try, Try to listen when I say what’s on my mind.” Chauncey, a female singer, harmonizes perfectly on this track, the duality giving the song a very pleasing texture. Trust me, all six tracks on JALA EP are worth checking out closely.