Leo Yu Determines When His Own Beat Drops


Photo Courtesy of Leo Yu

In each routine, Leo Yu utilizes a number of beatbox techniques he has learned from online and other beatboxers. This routine showcases the use of sub bass, snares, lip roll and vocal oscillation, to name a few.

Nicholas Hung, Co-Business Manager

Senior Leo Yu needs no fanfare to mark his entrance. If need be, he can transform his voice into a music machine in an instant.

Yu is one of the few students who pursues the art of beatboxing, a form of vocal percussion. After practicing for almost two years, Yu can mimic an amazing variety of drum machines and sound effects, weaving his sounds into beat routines with complex rhythms and patterns.    

“Beatbox has a lot of similarities to a musical instrument,” Yu said. “The thing with beatbox is that there is more freedom involved, so you can have your own kind of style…You can essentially include whatever you want in your routines.” 

Like many students, Yu spent most of his summer before sophomore year at an SAT prep school. To pass the time, he began beatboxing as an entertaining experiment with other students in the class. 

“It started off as just humor, just making random noises and seeing who can make the most interesting and difficult-to-make noises,” Yu said. “The most entertaining part of that was the progress we made together. It was fun to improve and have fun in beatbox and see each other get better.”

Fooling around with his friends transformed into an entertaining and engaging personal interest after Yu discovered the diverse beatboxing community online and expanded his collection of sounds by learning from online tutorials and other beatboxers on campus.

“The few of us who do beatbox help each other. When we can make certain sounds that others cannot yet do, we try our best to explain how to do it,” senior Anthony Chan said. “I think it’s amazing that he can put in the effort to keep beatboxing and get better.”

While most people might be familiar with beatboxing in popular a cappella groups like Pentatonix, Yu follows many renowned solo artists such as NaPoM, D-LOW and Alem, who captivate their audiences with their sounds. Yu has also joined the ranks of student-created a cappella group Rising Dynamics this year, acting as their new solo beatboxer.

“Something I like the most about beatbox is its collaboration,” Yu said. “I hope to eventually get better at beatbox, maybe not be famous, but I do want to create more of my own routines.”

Yu, known on Instagram as @yeo_lu, regularly shares short snippets of new routines on his stories and says he hopes to develop more professionally-produced recordings of his beatboxing and collaborate with other local beatboxers.