APAH Month: ‘Always felt like an underdog.’ Trumbull rapper chases music dreams
A Trumbull rapper is chasing his dream of making it big in the music industry. Bobby Phong, known as B-Phong, took the stage before a crowd of 4000 people and opened for Polo-G at Total Mortgage Arena this month.
“They're announcing my name, and they have the lights on, and it was just like, ‘Wow! This feels so real," Phong, 25, told News 12.
It was the latest feat in Phong's push to make a name for himself in an industry where his culture doesn't have a lot of representation.
“For me, I don't even look like a rapper. I never did. I don't look like I belong in this game ,” he said.
Phong's songs have well over a million streams, and he's performed at Toad's Place. But from 9 to 5, Phong supports his passion by working in the corporate world. He graduated from Sacred Heart University in 2020, then got a masters in accounting from UC Irvine. When Phong isn’t using that degree, he’s pursuing music.
“If I don't try to take that shot, then you never know. So, when I told my dad that, my dad was like, ‘Shoot for the stars,’” he recalled.
Phong's parents came to the United States from Vietnam. Phong was born in Bridgeport, where they initially lived before later moving to Milford. Phong graduated from Jonathan Law High School in 2016.
“I've always felt like an underdog, literally, as an Asian American, Vietnamese American. Being a Vietnamese American and going back to Vietnam, they look at me like, I’m a stranger,” Phong explained. “I'm here, and people don't look at me as much as an American sometimes. They see me as an Asian.”
Phong said rapping became a means to express himself during his teenage years.
“I used music as a way to vent about my issues before. It was always an outlet because when I was in high school, I was so quiet,” Phong told News 12.
That's no longer the case, but music is still a channel for Phong to express himself. In 2021, he released "Love Will Stay,” a song written in response to the surge of violence against Asian Americans in the wake of the pandemic.
“This song, I feel like, is a real representation of how I felt when I read those stories. That could've been my mom. That could've been my friend,” Phong said.
The track tells the story of a young Asian American man killed in a hate crime.
“I feel like the real virus in this world—and I still feel like it lives on to this day—is the hate that we have towards other differences,” Phong stated.
He donated all proceeds from the song to the AAPI Community Fund.
These days Phong's studio is still his room just like when he began, his closet doubling as a recording booth.
“The difference between before and now is I actually have a team that is like actually able to sound engineer my stuff, and they've been with me since the start of my career,” he explained.
Aria Mohseni and Christopher Hughes are Phong's producers and managers. They gave News 12 a sneak peak of Phong's upcoming song "Carefree." It's one Phong hopes takes him to the next level and maybe makes music his full-time gig.
“I don't know what it's going to look like in the next few years, but for the trajectory we're going on, I just hope it keeps going that way,” Phong said.