In an incredible display of talent and range, French beatboxer and vocalist Mohamed Belkhir recreated an entire orchestra using only his mouth. The 28-year-old artist emulated the sounds of several instruments, a chorus, and an operatic singer. He then used his loop station to layer the sounds and bring them all together.
Belkhir, known by his stage name MB14, is a self-taught beatboxer, vocalist, and musician with a natural ear for harmonies. In the biography on his YouTube channel, he describes his art as being “based on the human voice,” and a “musical cocktail” of singing, beatboxing, and rapping.
Though he first began beatboxing in 2010, Belkhir's talents were given a national stage in 2016 when he appeared on season five of The Voice France. He was invited to compete after producers came across his extraordinary beatbox cover of Massive Attack's “Teardrop.” At the time,” he says, “I was the outsider, the beat boxer who sang a little.” In an exciting—and to Belkhir, surprising—turn of events, he earned second place, and appeared on the show again in 2021 as part of The Voice: All Stars (France).
In those five years between The Voice appearances, he significantly evolved as an artist. While beatboxing remains one of his passions, he's begun focusing on opera and film as mediums. In the film Tenor released this spring, he plays a sushi delivery boy whose talents are noticed by a Paris Opera singing teacher. To prepare for the role, he took operatic singing lessons each week for a month and a half.
“It unblocked me a lot vocally,” he says. “Before I was in the head voice a lot; there I discovered the depth of my chest voice. Having worked on this film opened up new horizons for me. Now I listen to opera almost every day. I don't want to think of myself as just a beatboxer anymore, it limited me artistically. I want to use all my possibilities so as not to lock myself in a register.”
The newly-released film, and the captivating performance of the Middle Eastern song, are just two of the expansions in Belkhir's artistic repertoire. Follow his Instagram to keep up with new music, appearances, and tour dates, and watch some of his performances below.