Born in Central China and raised in Massachusetts, rapper Bohan Phoenix isn’t just a product of East-meets-West, he lives and breathes this dichotomy, too. With his lyrics continually being influenced by cultures around the world, the young New York City-based artist is one of the only rappers who sings in both Chinese and English, bridging the gap between two profound rap scenes.
One city that never fails to satisfy his hunger for inspiration (and just plain old hunger) is the vibrant city of Shanghai. After a killer performance at W Shanghai‘s bold and bright Future Rising event, we followed Bohan on a tour of one of his favorite cities, hitting the streets for dim sum, dumplings, and unique street antiques. The result? The first-hand account of the seamless blend of old world traditions and new world style that fills the city of Shanghai.
What do you love about Shanghai?
Bohan Phoenix: I love Shanghai for its possibilities. There is no other city in the world quite like it. I love living in New York, it feels like the only place I want to be at times, but Shanghai reminds me of New York’s bravado but with a completely different and unique perspective. The people of Shanghai are from all over the world, and the culture is constantly renewing and reinventing. It’s a quite an exciting experience just being in Shanghai.
What are your favorite places in Shanghai?
BP: As cliche as it may be, I love the Bund. I love standing by the water and looking at the concrete giants across from me. I still never get tired of how majestic of a view it is, and how it makes me feel when simply looking at it. One of the reasons I loved W Shanghai so much is because I had an amazing view of the Bund.
I love ALL Club, it’s a great place to catch some dope DJs from all around the world. I’ve played there myself and its always been an awesome vibe, with lots of love. DOE is a cool shop to get some fresh clothes. You can only get DOE in Shanghai so I think that’s a cool addition to the culture of the city. And this new place called Lotus. It’s a bar and they make some of the best gin and tonics I’ve ever had.
What would you recommend us to do when we are visiting Shanghai?
BP: Definitely eat some soup dumplings. They are amazing. Visit the bund, it’s a cliche for a reason. Hit any number of the lounges – Le Baron, ALL, Elevator – and you’ll catch some good vibes for sure. Basically go out more than I do when I’m there!
What’s your favorite thing about Old Town Shanghai?
BP: The tea house has really good vibes. I really liked that.
What’s still on your to-do list when you return?
BP: I think just walking around, maybe take a week and just see the city and really take it in. Maybe not in the summertime though, it is very unpleasant to walk around in that heat. But I think it would be nice to slow down and observe.