Recently, the Viet rap game has been popping off. Vietnamese rap music has been going through a renaissance of sorts, yet I don't think people really care. Less people care about Viet rap than Vpop, and it's already hard enough to get people to listen to me talk about Vpop. But whatever, f*ck it! Today I am going to talk about the Viet rap scene for that one person who actually cares.
For a little bit, the hard-hitting trap music style of the Dirty South (ATL HOE!) gained popularity in the Vietnamese rap scene. The South Vietnamese rap group 95G comes to mind when talking about innovators in Vietnamese trap music. Today, however, the group has moved on to expand their rap songs to more than just trap. For example, Nói Đi Em is less "I go hard in da paint" and more Drake-style R&B singing than rapping. I do think it's important that all artists continue to try new things and evolve. Therefore, I see this as a healthy sign for both 95G and the Viet rap scene because staying stagnant is essential a death sentence in the music world.
Touliver and Binz of the SpaceSpeakers crew are two individuals who always like to experiment with new sounds. For me, Binz is a rapper that I still can't decide if I like or not. There are times when I like his stuff and other times when I don't. At first, I wasn't sure of what to make of Gene. Now, I actually really like this Binz MV after multiple viewings. The funky rapping style that Binz uses in this MV sounds somewhat disjointed to me. Usually, I enjoy listening to songs that flow smoothly. Instead, the lyrics in Gene are very sharp sounding -- making the song hard to listen to the first time around. The visual style of Gene, however, I liked from the start. I find the mixture of old and modern along with the combination of Western and Eastern very interesting. I guess as an Asian American, I am a sucker for these types of things.
When I was talking earlier about songs that are easy to listen to and flow nicely, Sống Vì Tao by PjnBoys and Sol is a great example of such a song. There's something about the flow in this song that makes it the perfect cruising song to listen to in your car. There are times when I like to listen to one song on repeat to get into "the zone" such as when I need to do repetitive tasks like studying or programming. I find the hypnotic nature of this song makes it a good zoning-out-distractions-to-focus-on-a-single-task song.
If I was going to talk about Pjnboys, I also have to talk about Huỳnh James. Both Pjnboys and Huỳnh James blew up with their ultra popular song Quăng Tao Cái Boong. Their latest song Uống Gì Nào is a spiritual successor to Quăng Tao Cái Boong -- the Vietnamese weed smoker's anthem. I guess after they got done passing the bong around, they now need to decide on what to drink next in Uống Gì Nào. Just like Quăng Tao Cái Boong, Uống Gì Nào is a chill Viet reggae song that doesn't take itself too seriously.
Here we have the second SpaceSpeakers song on this list. When you're looking for solid rap songs, Rhymastic usually delivers. Out all of the "underground" rappers, Rhymastic is one of the best in knowing how to make songs that appeal to the mainstream. Trên Lầu Cao is his latest song, and it essentially spells out the ultimate goal of the SpaceBoys -- which is to takeover the Vietnamese popular music industry with what is regarded as "underground" music.
I have given rapper Karik a lot of shit through the years for going pop and mainstream. Recently, however, Karik has returned to harder hitting rap songs. Không Phải Hôm Nay is one such song. I selfishly want Karik to return to gangsta rap because that's what I like. You tell 'em, Karik! Tell 'em to go f*ck themselves! Yes, that's it! Let the hate and rage flow within you! Muhahaha!
Đen Vâu with his tall, slim frame and chill attitude reminds me of rapper Snoop Dogg. His latest song Bài Này Chill Phết is just like its title suggests, it is a chill song to listen to. I always been a big fan of Đen Vâu, and even though Đen Vâu is becoming more mainstream and popular, his music hasn't change. His songs still contain the same soulful messages that they had when Đen first started. Đen is still making music his way, and I respect that. The only difference now is that he now has MIN singing the hook for his song and the actress from Chàng Vợ Của Em and Nhắm Mắt Thấy Mùa Hè in his MV. Đen keeps it real. So real that, at the end of this MV, Đen raps about having advertisements in his MV in order to make money because without money, he can't keep making music.
It's been a while since I really dug a Suboi song. I am going to be honest -- I haven't really really liked a Suboi song since Những Đứa Bạn. That's a pretty long dry spell. I guess I just like to see the softer side of Suboi. Does that make me a sexist? Am I part of the problem? Am I part of the male patriarchy with its toxic masculinity? Maybe...I just so happen to like Cho Không better than Suboi's other girl with attitude and girl power songs.
Apparently, Lộn Xộn Band won Sing My Song in 2018. I didn't hear of them until I watched Con Đường. Consisting of two male singers and one female singer, Lộn Xộn is not a traditional rap group. In fact, they aren't a rap group at all but just a music group. However, I felt that it was worth talking about them here since Con Đường has a strong hip-hop flavor to it. Watching this MV, I couldn't help but think about the past Asian hip-hop and pop groups consisting of a couple of guys and one female vocalist that I used to listen to back in the day. Some of my favorites are the Taiwanese groups Da Mouth (aka the Asian Black Eyed Peas) and Nan Quan Mama. What y'all know about that old school Mandopop? Anyways, Lộn Xộn has that same nontraditional, flashy, and eccentric feel to their group that attracted me to groups like Da Mouth in first place.
Leave if to 16 NorthSide to bring the gangsta to gangsta rap. I have no idea what Sử Dụng means. I am just going to assume it's that purple lean, that sizzurp. The reason why I enjoy this rap song by 16NS so much is probably because it's essentially the Vietnamese version of Sippin On Some Syrup by Three 6 Mafia -- one of my all time favorite gangsta rap groups. Sippin' on some sizzurp, sip, sippin' on some sizzurp! Good old gangsta rap songs about drug abuse -- I will always have a soft spot for them.
Rapper Suzie might be best known for her dizz tracks like her track Dizzneyland. In her latest track Vô Duyên with Dr.A, we see a different side of Suzie than normal. It's kind of ironic since vô duyên describes a person who is crass, immature, graceless, or uncomely. You could argue that Suzie is showing the most class and grace that she has ever displayed before in this song.
If you're looking for the fastest rapper in Vietnam, rapper Datmaniac might be your man. I have always been a fan of fast rapping. Twista and Tech N9ne are two fast US rappers that come to mind. I am also a big fan of the South Korean rapper Outsider. Rapping fast is an art form that is hard to master. Đỉnh Núi Tuyết Của Nuối Tiếc isn't Datmaniac's fastest rap, but it is his latest song and is a good introduction to Dat's rapping style.
The underground rapper who has made the biggest splash in 2019 has got to be rapper B Ray. With the help of producer Masew, B Ray had a huge coming out party with singer AMEE in Ex's Hate Me. Once again, B Ray is teaming up with Masew to release a new MV. If you switched singer AMEE in Ex's Hate Me with a dude named Nhật Nguyễn, you might just get Đâu Đó. Like Ex's Hate Me, this B Ray and Masew song is another rap song with a slower R&B vibe on the subject of one's ex-lover. Unfortunately, Đâu Đó doesn't have the same catchiness and draw as Ex's Hate Me without AMEE. Question: If I prefer female vocals in R&B and rap songs, does that make me a feminist?
Rapper Binz is back at it again. Old school Vpop and ballad singer Mỹ Tâm has a new movie coming out. To promote the movie, Mỹ Tâm recruited Binz to rap in the OST for Chị Trợ Lý Của Anh. Mỹ Tâm kind of reminds of that aunt who is getting up there in age but still likes to act young and hip. Y'all know what I am talking about. Gotta look cool by trying to be hip with rap music, right? On a positive note, if rap music is indeed seen as cool, then that means rap music has come along way in being accepted in mainstream Vietnamese society. BTW, why is it okay for a woman to be "alpha" and engage in activities of toxic masculinity?
Although rap music still isn't popular enough to be considered mainstream in Vietnam, I do feel Vietnamese rap music is on the right track. Viet rap seems to be in a very healthy growth stage right now. Viet rap is growing in both scope and reach. Numerous Viet rappers are experimenting with different sounds and styles with some songs gaining a lot of attention from the mainstream crowd. All in all, things are looking up for Viet rap in 2019.