Everything You Need To Know About Taiwanese Hip-Hop Artist ØZI
Taiwanese singer, songwriter and director Øzi, real name Yi Fan Chen, is helping to put Chinese-language music on the map, particularly Mandarin rap and R&B. “People listen to K-pop or American hip-hop—me being on this side of the world [in Taiwan], being raised in Taipei, there's a lot to offer. But people have to hear it,” he told Flaunt magazine.
The rising star released his latest album, Pedestal, this year and is known for his unique sound, which he says reflects his Asian-American upbringing. Born in Los Angeles and growing up in Taipei, Øzi’s music is a blend of both Mandarin and English and R&B and rap.
Here are six things you need to know about Øzi.
1/6 He grew up in a musical family
His dad was an in-demand fashion photographer in Taiwan and his mum is a singer-songwriter. He told Pop Crave that he spent a big part of his childhood in his dad’s photography studio and backstage at his mum’s concerts—oftentimes quizzing sound engineers and producers on how to create music. “I learned a lot just by watching them work, and I guess eventually, their passion became a part of me,” he told Pop Crave.
2/6 He’s making a name for himself in the world of fashion
Aside from a fast-growing career in music, Øzi is also making waves as a model for high-fashion brands like Chanel and Fendi. For Øzi, having a unique fashion sense and a music career go hand-in-hand. He told Taiwan Beats he credits his uniqueness to his fiery red hair.
3/6 Nicki Minaj gave him an Instagram shout out
“That's the biggest thing to ever happen to me,” Øzi told Flaunt magazine, describing how he had modelled for Fendi and, after taking some press photos at a Fendi event, he woke up to see that Nicki Minaj had posted him in her Fendi collection on her Instagram. “So surreal, she’s like ‘big shouts to OZI in Taiwan, wassup?’” he told Flaunt.
4/6 He was signed as hip-hop label Forbidden Paradise’s first artist
Forbidden Paradise, a subsidiary of music production company X Entertainment, is managed by hip-hop producers, MCKY and RAZOR. The aim of the label is to shine a light on melodic hip-hop and R&B music in Taiwan. Øzi was the first artist signed to the label. “We all saw how Mandarin pop music is so stagnant, we wanted to change that and bring something fresh to the game. R&B and hip-hop wasn't big in Asia at all. Mandarin pop was all slow songs, we weren’t f**king with that,” he said to Flaunt.
5/6 He’s a big gamer, and has a newfound love for cooking
Øzi recently admitted to Hype Magazine that he plays a lot of games in his spare time. “I’m a huge fan of the Dark Souls series by Miyazaki, and I’m a heavy Super Smash Bros player on the Nintendo Switch.”
He’s also said that the Covid-19 pandemic has opened up doors for him to try out more experiences and “unlock new skill sets in life”, spanning from bartending and cooking to reigniting his love for ice hockey, which he’s played since school.
6/6 He was nominated for six awards at the Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan
He was nominated for six awards at the 2019 Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan, beating six other nominees to take home the award for the Best New Artist for his album, ØZI: The Album. In the same year, he was also selected as GQ Taiwan’s Man of the Year.
See other honourees from the Entertainment category of the Gen.T List 2020