Cover Dough-Boy talks to Tatler about his new album, Power (Photo: Mart Sarmiento)

Rapper-producer Dough-Boy is one of the most well-known names in Hong Kong's hip-hop scene. He talks to Tatler about his new album and his creative decisions

Dough-Boy is considered a household name in Hong Kong's small yet burgeoning hip-hop scene. With a multitude of skills—from rapping, producing, songwriting and even acting—he stands out. But the Hong Kong rapper-producer's career didn't start off smoothly. Winning Best Original Song at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2014 for the movie, The Way We Dance would've capitulated opportunities for the then 24-year-old artist. Instead, it was a setback because no one could afford an award-winning artist.

But music has always been his passion. Before winning the prestigious award, he had a serendipitous encounter with American rapper and songwriter MC Jin in Hong Kong which earned him his first producing paycheck. Dough-Boy has since worked his way into the industry, working on his own music and with other respectable artists including American rapper and songwriter Lil Yachty, Cantonese hip-hop group LMF and Tatler's Culture List 2021 honouree and Got7 member, Jackson Wang. He's also the frontman of his crew Bakerie, which includes Seanie P, Tommy Grooves and Geniuz F.

The talented artist has two albums under his belt, Chinglish (2018) and Good, Bad & Ugly (2019) and now he's back with the release of his third album, Power. This new work marks a shift in Dough-Boy's career as it showcases the collaborative effort between his own unique sonic flavour and the style of each featured artist. Tatler catches up with the rapper-producer as he talks about his new album and why he chose to work with 12 different artists.

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Congratulations on the release of Power! What makes this album different from the other ones you’ve worked on?

Thank you! My previous albums were very personal and mostly work as audio journals for me. This time, it’s more for everyone else. This project is a challenge I’ve set for myself to see if I could handle so many artists and sub-genres.

You worked with a total of 12 artists from all over the world, how was the creative process like for such a big collaborative work?

The main goal I set out to achieve for this album is to bring people together. There was a lot of trial and error. There were a lot of song ideas and collaborations that didn’t work out. It took a while to lock down these 12 artists with very different sounds and backgrounds and to try to make them all fit sonically into an album.

Why did you specifically choose artists from different places?

I never see the world as just the city I live in. I hope everyone could see a bigger world outside of their social circle. So I purposely made sure each artist featured on the album had a different background. I wanted to set an example musically to bridge Asia together and also connect Asia with the rest of the world.

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Can you tell me why you chose Power for the title of this album?

I wanted this album to represent the power of the people and the power of unifying people together from all around the world. I want to use this [album] as an example of combining our powers together as opposed to using our power for division and against one another. 

You also reached out to the abstract artist, Ghost Style to work on a print for each song, why did you add that extra layer for this album?

I wanted people to feel the music. People don’t feel with their hearts anymore. Everything we feel is constrained by time and peer pressure. I wanted the audience to look at each painting and listen to each song and feel their immediate response.

You idolised a lot of artists growing up, how did they inspire or influence the work you do now?

Yes, I became a music producer because I wanted to get a chance to make music for my favourite artists. I’m definitely influenced by the older generation’s work ethic and technicality. At the same time, I’m influenced by how fast the younger generation learns things. I still appreciate artists who create for the sake of creative expression, not worrying about whether it’s marketable or not. I think I fall more towards that category.

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Above Watch the music video for Dough-Boy ft. Ginjin's "So Cold" from his new album

How do you overcome the lulls in creativity and inspiration?

I actually don’t think about it. Fortunately, creativity or inspiration is always accessible to me. I can use it anytime I want. When I'm bored of one thing or style, I'm usually fascinated by another so I just try out something different.

In what ways have music comforted or helped you throughout this pandemic?

Music has helped me with or without the pandemic. It has always been an outlet for me to express feelings that have been suppressed in real life. It’s definitely a form of therapy for me. Without music, I don’t know how I’ll survive this past decade. Luckily, I feel like I’ve grown out of it recently and I’m more relieved than before.

Many know you as a rapper, producer, songwriter and even an actor but what else can we look forward to from Dough-Boy?

Definitely more outside the category of being a hip hop artist. I’ve been trying to use all the things I’ve learned and transition into another medium. I feel like the possibilities of art is endless. Music today in general is very dependable on algorithms and it’s very formulated. I hope to get out of this box and explore more artistically.

Listen to Dough-Boy's new album, Power here. Additionally, you can purchase the prints for each song by sending a message to Dough-Boy's Instagram page.