Rap keeps emerging in Vietnam despite challenges

Source: Pano feed

Noted Vietnamese rappers have continued springing up in recent years, adding new breath and vivacity to the local rap arena, which is however faced with immense obstacles.


According to local rap forums, the music genre began to take a firmer foothold in Vietnam between 1997 and 2005 after encountering countless hurdles in its initial days.

The number of Vietnamese rappers proliferated during that time thanks to the Internet boom and low-cost studio recording services.

However, the rap music scene back then was plagued by spontaneous, disoriented growth.

The trend took a new turn in 2006, and has gradually gained in popularity with local fans, particularly youngsters.

According to rap fans, the music’s appeal lies mostly in its rough yet significant lyrics, topical content, fast, catchy beats, and rapid-fire rhymes.

Rap news and rap lessons

Dan Thanh, a teacher in her late 40s, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that she was taken by surprise by the diverse, topical content in teenagers’ rap music, which includes the songs and video clips extolling human-to-human compassion and Vietnamese identity and national pride, and reiterating Vietnam’s sovereignty over its seas and islands.

She soon found herself gradually being attracted to the music and the teacher even incorporated it into some of her lessons to effectively engross her students.

A news website, Vietnamplus, run by the Vietnam News Agency, was named in September last year among the winners of the World Young Reader Prizes, the annual awards from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), that honored excellence in newspaper engagement of the young.

The prize was awarded to Vietnamplus in recognition of its “Rap News Plus” program, which debuted on November 12, 2013. The producers have since aired online one new video every two weeks.

Its videos feature two to four rappers, who brief the most significant local, international, entertainment, and sports news by rapping them to catchy beat music.

The news-rapping videos have generated positive responses from the readers and journalists alike.

The debut video garnered one million views on YouTube and other websites after just 48 hours.

Established and emerging local rappers include Andree, Dinh Tien Dat, LK, Lil Shady, Kyo, Karik, Quan Rapsoul, Mr T, Hoang Rapper and two young female rappers, Suboi and Kimmese.

Suboi is the first Vietnamese singer to make it to South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences & Festivals, which ran last month in Texas and gathered many of the world’s music producers and artists.

James Minor, the music festival’s general manager, said that Suboi’s music was played to a full room and received enthusiastic audience reaction.

Organized annually since 1987 in Texas, SXSW offers the unique convergence of original music, independent films and emerging technologies, and serves as a launching pad for new creative content with a clutch of new media presentations, music showcases, film screenings, and conference panel discussions, according to its website.

Suboi, 25, whose real name is Hang Lam Trang Anh, is most known for her rapid-fire rap rhymes in both Vietnamese and English and a vivacious performing style.

A Wall Street Journal article dated March 25, 2014 which introduced Suboi wrote that whether she is performing in Vietnamese, English or a blend of the two, “her music sounds strong and assured, like she might be her country’s Queen Latifah or Lauryn Hill.”

“Her music is great and her story even more fascinating. Suboi also definitely gained new fans: I saw people whipping out their camera phones and taking notes,” the Wall Street Journal cited Dave, founder of the Brooklyn Vegan website, as saying.

Suboi has also accepted Dave’s invitation to perform for the Broookly Vegan.

Founded in 2004, Brooklyn Vegan is an independent, mostly-music blog that focuses on international music news, live show reviews, pictures, tour dates, tips, MP3’s, streams, and videos, its website says.

Suboi’s debut album “Walk” came out in 2010 and last year saw the release of her second, “Run,” both of which can be downloaded on iTunes.

The young rapper is currently working on her new music, as well as seeking new international producers.

Suboi’s popularity is also notable. She now has 1.1 million Facebook followers and her YouTube videos often top 100,000 views.

Emerging Vietnamese female rapper Suboi (holding out the microphone) is pictured rocking the stage at a show during the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences & Festivals, which ran in Texas in mid-March 2015. Photo: oogeewoogee.com

Emerging Vietnamese female rapper Suboi (holding out the microphone) is pictured rocking the stage at a show during the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences & Festivals, which ran in Texas in mid-March 2015. Photo: oogeewoogee.com

A long way to go

Despite the new spurt in the local rap arena, there remains a long way to go if the genre is to thrive in Vietnam.

Tuan Khanh, a famed local composer, told Tuoi Tre that the country’s rappers are still limited to a small community.

“Many are still of the opinion that rapping should only be a minor part of a song, while we Vietnamese rappers have well many things to say,” female rapper Suboi said.

She may gain more fans in the U.S., but back home, Suboi said, rap remains far outside of the mainstream.

“Rap is still underground in Vietnam and many Vietnamese don’t know the true meaning of hip hop and rap partly due to K-pop’s pervasive influence,” she explained.

Despite the abundance of rap songs and the increasing number of rappers, local singers have yet to release many worthy albums, according to local newswire Ha Noi Moi (New Hanoi).

In addition, a number of so-called rappers have released clumsily written songs with nonsensical content and foul language, further complicating the Vietnamese rap scene.

Despite immense challenges ahead, many righteous rappers are resolved to bring out their best and foster the development of the genre, composer Tuan Khanh underlined.

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Đăng ký: VietNam News