Beatboxing, from its humble beginnings with the likes of Doug E. Fresh and Biz Markie, has spread around the world with hip-hop culture, and it puts an emphasis on expressing oneself. It is, however, a bit of an acquired taste, a taste China has yet to fully acquire.
B-box, as it is more commonly known in China, began to grow in popularity in China 10 years ago. Kui Jung, the pioneer for China’s B-box scene, first caught public attention online where he uploaded his beatboxing performances. The growing popularity of his beatboxing eventually led him to be the first person to perform beatboxing on the Chinese mainland’s TV screens back in 2005.
It has been around for a bit longer in Hongkong, Macao, and Taiwan, but China is giving rise to its own crop of talent.
Hong Kong’s beatbox star So Tsz Lun (蘇子麟), a.k.a. Heartgrey; the ‘Macao Human Beatbox’, and Taiwan’s Jimix made an impact on the international beatbox competition last year.
Chinese soldiers are even getting in on the art of beatboxing. (video here).
However, beatboxing is generally regarded as “a novelty or circus act” rather than a musical performance in China. The beatbox scene in China itself is in its early stages, and beatboxers have room to improve both their originality and substance. Perhaps the most memorable moment from beatboxing in the mainstream in China came during a TV show last year when a commentator questioned the significance of Kui Jung’s beatboxing in his music group’s performance. The commentator said the beatboxing seemed strange and not necessary because computers could replicate the sound.
Just like hip-hop history in its birth place, the US, China’s beatboxing scene is having a little trouble bringing beats to the streets, but it’s just a matter of time.
If you’re interested, check out more on China’s hip-hop pioneers!