SG HOMIE SQUAD! SG HOMIE SQUAD! SG HOMIE SQUAD! You might be thinking what the hell did I just watch. Lucky for you guys, I am an expert on the subject of weird Asian cultural trends. A year ago a Korean/Japanese rap song called It G Ma was blowing up on the internet. Unlike past Asian rap songs, It G Ma was a rap song heavily influenced by American trap music. When I say trap music, I'm not talking about the festival trap songs that you hear at EDM festivals. I'm talking about the music created by rappers in the "trap" -- a house where drug dealers and rappers conduct their business.
Trap music -- popularized by rappers from the ATL -- has enjoyed great mainstream success in recent years. Therefore, it's no surprise that the next generation of Asian rappers are modeling their music after American trap music. More importantly, the global popularity of Asian rap songs like It G Ma has lit a fire under the once dwindling Asian hip-hop scene.
Let's be real here. No one cared about Asian rap music until one day a clip of Japanese rapper Kohh saying "arigato" and "Air Force One" started making its way around the internet. You know the one I'm talking about. If you don't, then apparently you have no younger Asian friends on Facebook that are all about that AzN LyFe. That clip was all over Facebook in 2015. Little did people know, that clip was from a collaborative trap song between Korean and Japanese rappers that would popularize Asian trap music and ultimately, change how people viewed Asian rap.
In It G Ma, Keith Ape and the rest of his Underwater Squad showed the world that Asian rappers can go hard in the paint too. It G Ma set an example for other Asian rappers to follow. Today, even Vietnamese rappers are using the Southern US trap sound. SG Homie Squad is clearly a trap song influenced by It G Ma. There's no doubt about that.1
Furthermore, I would say It G Ma has brought about a greater effort in rap collaborations. Like Dave Chappelle says, the only people Asian people beef with are other Asian people. That's just how it is. With all these Asian countries in close proximity together, fighting over resources and stuff is going to happen. How many wars have there been? It's like having a brother. You guys are going to fight over a toy, the last ice cream sandwich, or something else. It's going to happen. Korean and Japanese rappers working together? That's quite an achievement in my opinion. I was under the impression that there is still racial hostility between the two nations.
I believe artist collaboration is a good thing, and there has been a good amount of artist collaboration in the Vietnamese rap scene. Take recently released Vietnamese trap music video Nam Kỳ Flow (Southern Flow) for example. In it, there are 6 different rappers who take turns dropping a few bars. Instead of going at it alone, joining forces to release a single rap song can improve the chances of a song taking off. It's kind of like how girl groups or boy bands work. You may not like all the raps that are dropped, but you probably end up liking one of them. Thus, rap collaborations are useful in appealing to a broader audience.
Rap music needs all the help that it can get. Rap is still very much an underground culture in Vietnam. However, the hip-hop scene is starting to grow thanks the efforts of Vietnamese rappers who continue to work together to push the scene in the limelight. Vietnamese rap doesn't get much attention in the media, but Viet rap has been around for a while. Viet rap was first popularized by Vietnamese American rappers in the early 2000's. Since then, Viet rap in America has been slowing dying. When is the last time you heard of a Vietnamese rap song? Exactly! It's still the same old Viet rap songs that Vietnamese American kids still talk about -- like Vietnamese Gang.
Today, the tables have turned. Rappers from Vietnam are now the driving force in the Viet rap game. In my opinion, Viet rap is experiencing a resurgence. The rise of an underground rap community in Vietnam has helped tremendously to create interest in Vietnamese rap music. Also, the trendiness of recent Asian trap songs has helped rekindle the fire that once existed in the Vietnamese American rappers. For example, Vietnamese American rappers from Atlanta (aka "TRAPLANTA" -- the home of trap music) are now becoming more active in putting out Vietnamese trap music.
Will Vietnamese rap ever become anything more than a super-niche, underground culture? I don't know. Viet rap in America is so underground these days that it's straight subterranean. I live in Atlanta, I'm all about that AZN Pride, and I'm all about those weird Asian cultural trends. Yet, did I know about the underground Vietnamese rap scene here in the ATL? Nope, I didn't have a clue that there even was one just two weeks ago. Similar to how Vietnamese rappers in Vietnam are coming together, Atlanta Cypher is a trap song featuring multiple Vietnamese rappers from the ATL coming together to release a collaborative rap song.
With all this togetherness in the Viet rap scene, you might be asking: "Where are the diss tracks?". Diss tracks have been a part of hip-hop music for the longest time. If diss tracks are your thing, then ATLien LJ has you covered. I'm not sure why he has beef with rappers from Vietnam like Binz, Andree, and Lil Knight; but whatever, 3 Thằng 1 Dây is fire! You tell 'em, LJ! Whoop that trick! Whoop that trick! Whoop that trick!
Vietnamese rap has come full circle. It started out in America where underprivileged Vietnamese American youth used rap music as a means of coping with their struggles in life. Eventually, rap made it's way to Vietnam where the youth have their own hardships to deal with. Although not as mainstream as other forms of music in Asia, rap is still a youth driven art form that continues to evolve and grow in the Vietnamese underground communities. The Vietnamese American rap scene has been slowly dying through the years, but the rise of Asian trap music has given Viet rap new life.
So, don't mind me when I start yelling "Cooking the riceeeee!" for no apparent reason. That's just me celebrating Viet rap. It's how I like to rep my fellow Viet people. I just want all my ninjas to eat good than a muthafucka!