Back when electro music producer Touliver started his SpaceSpeakers music group in 2011, urban music wasn't all that popular in Vietnam. I use the word "urban" as a way to loosely describe all of the contemporary genres of music that have been heavily influenced by the street and underground music scenes found in large urban cities. When I refer to urban music, I am talking about genres like rap, r&b, hip-hop, reggae, dancehall, etc. Do we have any J-urban fans out there? Y'all know what I am talking about.
Nowadays, urban music is starting to become much more popular in Vietnam. Music that once was underground and super niche is now starting to become more mainstream and commercially successful. Here's a quick list of a few newly released MVs by former "underground" Viet artists that are keeping it urban.
Female rapper and old school SpaceSpeakers member Kimmese teams up with the original SpaceBoy himself, Touliver, in a brand new song titled Loving You Sunny. Kimmese brings the smooth female r&b vocals while Touliver brings a funky electro sound to Loving You Sunny. In addition, newer school rapper Đen Vâu joins in to give Loving You Sunny a G-funk super chill vibe. All in all, Loving You Sunny is a truly inspiring artistic piece of work by the SpaceSpeakers crew. I only have one question...who dafuq is Sunny?
Here is another SpaceSpeakers song and MV. Yêu 5 is the fifth "Yêu" song by SpaceSpeakers producer and rapper Rhymastic. Yêu 5 is by far the most successful/popular Rhymastic "Yêu" song to date. Like Loving You Sunny, Yêu 5 is an interesting blend of electronic, r&b, and rap influences -- genres that are known for their urban and underground flavor.
Speaking of bringing the urban, Yến Lê and YanBi did just that in this year's season of The Remix. First performed on The Remix New Generation, Cò Lả is a modern remake of the classic Vietnamese folk lullaby of the same name. I would never have thought you could take an old Vietnamese lullaby and remake into a hip sounding modern pop song. Somehow Yến Lê, YanBi, and DJ DSmall made it work here in one of those rare instances when keeping it urban worked out really well in breathing new life to an old classic song.
Hằng BingBoong, who participated in The Remix in 2016, is another artist that likes to dabble in the more urban side of Vpop. To be honest, I haven't like anything that Hằng BingBoong has put out since she was in Bài Hát Cuối with YanBi and Mr. T. Lối Vắng featuring rapper Andree Right Hand is her latest MV, and it's actually pretty alright. It may not be the best song, but it's certainly not the worst. What I appreciate about Lối Vắng is that it has a much stronger r&b and rap flavor to it than most normal Vpop songs.
Andree Right Hand likes to keep it urban as you can tell from Anh Không Biết Đâu. Andree likes to rap about being a hardass gangster, but I just don't buy it. "Anh Không Biết Đâu" is very fitting title because I don't believe Andree knows anything about that IRL gang-banging life. In my opinion, Anh Không Biết Đâu is an example of when keeping it urban goes wrong. There's a difference between repping "urban" culture versus appropriating black culture. Acting like a wannabe gangster doesn't make you cool. Going to prison and getting your wig split and cheeks taken isn't cool. Keep it urban, but don't cross that line of repping something that you are not.