Hailing from Philadelphia, Bok Nero is a rapper, DJ, and songwriter who’s been working tirelessly to bring together the worlds of hip-hop and electronic music. His signature “HoodEDM” style mixes rap with everything from trap and club to house and dubstep. He’s colloborated with some of the best in the game from Stooki Sound to Zomboy, Jahlil Beats, UZ, Yellow Claw, QUIX, and most recently slushii. While he’s become well known for his signature vocals, his skills behind the decks are no joke. To flex his talents and get a deeper insight into the artist, we’ve invited him to bless us with a new Guest Mix + Interview. The mix is a high-energy half-hour of his own tracks, rap anthems, trap classics, and fresh bangers. As for the interview we discuss why he started creating, being more than a “featured artist,” Drake’s detour into electronic music, overcoming fear, how he connected with Steve Aoki and Dim Mak, and much more.
Tell us about the mix. What should fans expect from this one? What was your goal when putting it together?
As a listener, fans should expect to hear what HoodEDM is. I want to show my range as a Vocalist/DJ. This mix will represent where I’m from and who I am as a creator.
What drove you to start creating music? What inspires you to keep going?
I started making music as a way to express myself while growing up poor. I wanted a voice and I wanted to be heard, because I have a lot to say. I’m inspired to keep going because I am grateful to be in a position where I can speak to the creative kids like me, who just want a chance to leave their mark on the world.
I have so much respect for the craft, and to be constantly overlooked is frustrating, but it also makes me wanna turn up and show the world what I’m capable of.
A lot of people know you as a rapper, but you’re also a producer and DJ. Do you feel the latter two are an overlooked part of your skillset?
Yes, my DJing skillset and attention to production is definitely overlooked. As soon as people see the name Bok Nero, I’m categorized as a “feature artist,” with no knowledge of electronic music or set structure. Most of the people that put me in that box have no idea what a Bok Nero set sounds like, or how much effort goes into any of my performances. I have so much respect for the craft, and to be constantly overlooked is frustrating, but it also makes me wanna turn up and show the world what I’m capable of.
You’ve been working to bridge the gap between electronic music and rap for quite some time. Do you think Drake’s recent foray into electronic music will have a positive impact in the scene?
Drake bridged the gap between electronic music and rap even more. We needed a mainstream artist to co-sign the marriage, so what better artist to do it than Drake. ‘Downhill’ is the most fire track on the album, and I believe that project will age like wine.
Danger is real, but fear is an illusion.
Can you tell us a little bit about your “Fvck Fear” mantra and the associated clothing line?
The mantra is a reminder that “Fvck Fear” does not mean the absence of fear, but the courage to face it head-on. Danger is real, but fear is an illusion.
Do you have any tips for others trying to overcome their own fears?
The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that aren’t at present and may not ever exist.
I watched Aoki perform at so many different festivals and stages, and he always brought the same level of energy and confidence to his shows. Watching and learning from how he moves helped me to find more confidence in my own DJ sets.
How did you first connect with Steve Aoki & Dim Mak? What impact has that relationship had on your career?
I met Steve Aoki through producer Jahlil Beats. Touring the world with Steve opened my mind to different ways of approaching music. I watched Aoki perform at so many different festivals and stages, and he always brought the same level of energy and confidence to his shows. Watching and learning from how he moves helped me to find more confidence in my own DJ sets.
You’ve worked with a wide range of collaborators from Stooki Sound to Zomboy, Jahlil Beats, UZ, Yellow Claw & more. Who’s your favourite artist to work with? Any exciting new collabs on the horizon?
Honestly, I can’t say who my favorite artist to work with is. Everybody has their own unique creative process, which adds to the overall collaboration experience. I have some dope projects in the works, but you’ll just have to wait and see!
Music has allowed some incredible opportunities for you to travel. What’s your favourite place in the world? What makes it special?
My favorite place in the world is Tokyo, Japan. It was special to me because it’s exactly like what I imagined it to be before I went. Anime characters walking the streets, great sushi, and respectful culture. I love Japan and can’t wait to go back!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given or heard this year?
“Hey Bok, you’re a black DJ with painted nails and colored hair from the hood in North Philadelphia. People won’t understand it at first because they’ve never seen anything like you. Keep pushing the limits of what’s accepted. Eventually everybody will respect it.”
Movement is medicine so don’t stop dancing.
Any final words for fans?
Thank you for supporting my latest single ‘Move It,’ and for the love & support that Fvck Fear clothing has received. Movement is medicine so don’t stop dancing.
1. Control Freak – No Chill
2. Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl ft. Georgi Kay – In My Mind
3. dead prez – Hip Hop
4. Playboi Carti – R.I.P.
5. G Jones – In Your Head (RL Grime Edit)
6. Kendrick Lamar – Humble (Skrillex Remix)
7. Kendrick Lamar – Humble (Skrillex Remix) [Whipped Cream Flip]
8. Bear Grillz – No Cap (feat. Bok Nero)
9. A$AP Ferg – New Level
10. Skrillex & Rick Ross – Purple Lamborghini
11. Bear Grillz – Don’t Stop Get It (feat. Bok Nero)
12. Kanye West – Power
13. Spag Heddy – Zoom
14. Ray Volpe – Sellout (ft. Bok Nero)
15. Boombox Cartel – Máquina (FrostTop Remix)
16. Bok Nero & GHOSTER – Canary
17. Troyboi & Skrillex – WARLORDZ (Bailo & ISOxo Remix)
18. Yellow Claw & Dirty Audio feat. Bok Nero – No Limit
19. Hairitage – The Movement
20. AFK & Carbin – Boss ft. Cody Ray (Sirenz Jersey Club Flip)
21. Swedish House Mafia – One (Your Name)
22. Boombox Cartel – Fatal Attraction (ALEKO Remix)
23. Knock2- Murdah
24. Knock2 – Murdah (Celo & MO$HCA Remix)
25. QUIX – Earthquake (feat. Bok Nero) [NXSTY Remix]
26. BAARIC – BLOW
27. ISOxo – Nightrealm (808gong Flip)
28. Zomboy – Rotten ft. Bok Nero
29. Future – WIFI LIT
30. GTA – FK IT
31. Kaaris & Mr Carmack – Chargé (Boombox Cartel Remix)
32. Kanye West – Mercy
33. Mr. Carmack – Pay For What (Alexander Lewis Flip)
34. Chief Keef – Love Sosa (RL Grime Remix)