January 12, 2010 / 9:47 AM / 10 years ago

Human "drum" brings beatboxing to Beijing

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s ancient art of voice mimicry has caught up with modern times, largely thanks to a young artist who’s brought the rarely heard sounds of beatboxing to the clubbing masses.

Beatboxing involves using the lips and voice to imitate drum beats and musical sounds, and China has its own tradition of this type of performance known as “kouji.”

But Liang Bo, who performs under the stage name Bozi, learned the art via a very modern medium — the Internet — perfecting this technique over five years and earning a loyal following.

He learned how to beatbox by painstakingly imitating foreign beatboxers on video sharing websites, and now performs at clubs around Beijing. He’s also performed on several television shows.

“There are a lot of sounds that people do not realize, sounds you hear in beatboxing, and I really enjoy exploring these sounds and working them into my performance,” the 21-year-old said.

His repertoire includes several popular songs, such as pop star Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” and The Black Eyed Peas hit “My Humps,” which go down well with club audiences.

“People hear these songs and think you can use your voice to do this music? They get very excited,” he said.

Liang estimates there are now around 10 beatbox hopefuls training in Beijing and the art form is also gaining a following: the first national beatboxing championship was held last year and American beatbox artist Rahzel performed in Beijing in November.

One of Liang’s fans, Zhang Hansheng, said he expected beatboxing to become the next big thing in China.

“I think that beatboxing will quickly become popular in China, I think it is a brilliant type of art. I have heard ‘kouji’ and I have heard people imitating all sorts of noises but to turn it into this is astonishing,” he said.

Reporting by Tyra Dempster and Jimmy Guan, editing by Miral Fahmy

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