Autumn. A time of change when the summer humidity soothes into crisp days with blue skies in Hanoi, and when the rains eventually abate and the dry season sets in in Saigon. In either city, the weather’s perfect for rolling the windows down and blasting out a banger from the last few months. And there’s been a few.
Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt
From Robber unleashing ‘His Story,’ to the one-shot wizardry of the video for the all-star The Regionals: Vietnam, to SMO and Lil Wuyn doing what they do best – rolling around in whips and rapping hard bars, the last few months have been filled with good Vietnamese music. Here, the Wink Team chooses their favorites.
Hustlang Robber – ‘His Story’
No one does it like Robber. The preternaturally talented MC has an endless, intricate flow, that’s sinewy and smart, and here he uses it to unravel his personal story, or ‘His Story.’
His lyrics are so dense, the track rewards repeated listens. And the vibe is mellow, as the track eases in with a piano loop that sounds like it was lifted from Bruce Hornsby and The Range, and finds Robber musing on the power of music to preserve his words and wisdom even after he’s long gone. It’s no surprise Robber has a devoted cult following, and the Hustlang crew a queue of young MCs looking to join.
9TH WONDER, B-WINE, BLACKA, GONZO, TLINH – ‘THE REGIONALS: VIETNAM’
Gang cuts are the best. That way you get rappers like 9th Wonder, B-Wine, Blacka, Gonzo and TLinh on the same beat, with their styles rubbing against each other and creating a beautiful musical kind of friction. Added to that, the video for The Regionals: Vietnam is a one-shot wonder, as the MCs baton pass the mic along one long stretch of crowded Saigon street, as they weave between bikes, sit down for a snack, steal a cucumber from a market stall, and eventually ride off into the distance. It’s also Vietnamese rap’s first cypher project for HipHopDX Asia, which, rightfully, has been getting big numbers over on their channel.
SMO & Lil Wuyn – ‘LO-HI’
Back in 2021, SMO and Lil Wuyn – two rappers from the same early vintage in the Vietnamese rap scene – dropped the incendiary ‘Jump.’ Having clocked almost 6M YouTube views up to now, the duo are, understandably, sticking together even when they’re apart. SMO walks the streets of LA with fellow resident Antoneus Maximus, while Wuyn sips Jager in a Saigon shipping container depot. As for the track, SMO leads with his skittering, helium-filled, auto-tuned vocals, about the usual topics – hustling and selling dope, love for the gang, and his skills on the mic – and Lil Wuyn with his signature dark and brooding lyrics that switch between Vietnamese and English adds a reminder to “go hard or go home” not that these two need the reminder – SMO & Lil Wuyn always go hard.
Sol7 – ‘Get Some More’
From LA to a Saigon shipping depot to the sand dunes of Mui Ne. SOL7 and crew vibe out on the yellow sand, as SOL7 offers his warm lyrics over a rolling bass-driven beat, typical for the artist who’s synonymous with the melodic rap scene here.
Ricky Star – ‘Em iu’ (feat. Andree Right Hand, Wxrdie, Bình Gold, 2pillz)
Ricky Star hops on the Andree Right Hand track ‘Em iu’ to present a critical view of youth culture. The track’s already crowded with verses from Andree Right Hand, Wxrdie, Bình Gold, 2pillz, but Ricky Star adds his cheeky bars about ‘trap girls’ and misguided youth over the track’s foreboding beat with its twisted steel pan loop.
Low G – ‘Không Thèm’ (prod. Maiki)
We’ve been in love with Low G since his link up with Thang from Ngot Band. Despite his baby face and oversized, bookworm glasses, Low G rhymes in a deep voice and with worldly wise lyrics, here presented over a Dada-ist collage-themed music video. On this track, the rapper reflects on life before and after rap fame came his way.
Soobin x Binz – ‘Beautiful Monster’
Every music round-up of ours seems pre-destined to feature either Binz or Soobin, or both. That’s the case here too, with their track ‘Beautiful Monster.’ It’s inevitable, because they’re backed, as part of the Spacespeaker’s crew, by Touliver’s booming, big-room productions that stand up in clubs here alongside the usual cycle of Travis Scott and Kanye tracks. ‘Beautiful Monster’ has synth lines reminiscent of The Weeknd with Soobin spouting lyrics about falling in love, and Binz bringing him back down to the ground with whispers of betrayal and heartbreak. It’s also a precursor to Spacespeakers’ upcoming KOSMIK album.
MONO – ‘Waiting For You’
If 2022 has belonged to anyone, it’s probably MONO. His album ‘22’ has been the viral breakout hit of the year. And the hype refuses to die down. On ‘Waiting For You’ the radio-friendly, melancholic lyrics (which you’ve probably heard already considering how ubiquitous the track is) have MONO pining for his ex as he works his shift in a tailor’s shop. If the concept is the same old story – poor guy’s ex makes good and finds a new guy leaving him pining for the old days – then at least MONO’s good looks and clean lyrics give them a new shine.
RPT MCK – ‘TẠI VÌ SAO’
The prolific MCK is another mainstay of our music recaps. He’s so creative that there’s half-finished demos and ideas sitting around all over the place. ‘TẠI VÌ SAO’ is one of those demos. After revisiting it, MCK decided to breathe new life into the track, and release it. Thematically, it doesn’t divert too far from MCK’s recent work. There’s autotune, and some lyrics about love and loss, but they’re imbued with MCK’s typically loose flow that switches effortlessly into double-time as the rapper weaves his narrative.
Rtee – ‘Ngồi Mát Ăn Bát Vàng’
Rtee was mentored by BINZ during his turn on the talent show, Rap Viet. And BINZ is said to have helped Rtee develop his synth-heavy, Weeknd-inspired sound. Now, on ‘Ngồi Mát Ăn Bát Vàng’ he’s having dinner in the future. The table’s like a royal banquet, with Rtee and his girl at opposite ends as the rapper muses on love and life. As the video suggests, the future’s bright for Rtee.
Tóc Tiên x Mew Amazing – ‘906090’
The Tóc Tiên comeback gathers pace. For her next track on her trail to regain her pop crown, she’s teamed up with Mew Amazing, the breakout star of Vietnam Voice, ‘Giọng Hát Việt’ show. And his ‘Mew’ moniker, just in case you wondered, comes from his lifelong love of cats. Tóc Tiên’s comeback has been full of girl-power lyrics. “I am not your bootie call, not your million dollar doll,” she exclaims on ‘906090’ in a cinematic video shot in the Women Standard Research Lab.
Larria – ‘Jello Fight’ feat. V# & Amber Ngo
Back on less commercial territory we have the underground legend Larria living out some of his ‘90s RnB fantasies with the help of V# and Amber Ngo. There’s a guest appearance by Minh Lai grinding along with the gang in the soft focus studio-shot golden era MTV-style music video. This is what TLC would have sounded like if they were born in Binh Duong.
Liu Grace – ‘Anh Chưa Biết Em (Remix)’
And after the smooth sounds of Larria’s RnB, Lui Grace drops this banger. The rapper only started out in 2020, but already she’s dropped tracks like ‘What Chu Lookin’ For’ with 95G producer, NVM, and a guest verse on ‘Diego’ with prettyXIX. On ‘Anh Chưa Biết Em,’ within the first ten seconds the bass hits and the springy beat skips, and Lui Grace, despite her youth, launches into some hard lyrics. “I choose you, even though I got Tinder Gold,” she raps by way of a compliment and a warning to the target of the song.
Obito – ‘Si Mê You’
Inevitably, brands have been co-opting rappers for commercial purposes lately, like LOWG & Tlinh’s electric motorbike brand collab, ‘Nguoi Di Bao.’ And it’s fine, as long as the music’s good. Enter Orbito who turns his Cornetto ice cream ad into a dreamy track about a boy in love that’s as sickly sweet as a Cornetto itself. Ice, ice cream, baby.
Listen to our complete autumn soundtrack of made-in-Vietnam bangers here: