It was a tough year for everyone. Especially artists. Live shows cancelled. Collaboration opportunities curtailed. At least we had the internet. And some events between the lockdowns. So the team have put together their list of the best Vietnamese music from 2021 for you to end the year with. Bump these tracks on your stereo this New Year.
Đọc bài viết bằng tiếng Việt
Amidst the chaos, there were still lots of releases. New music and new MVs dropped often. And finally, Rap Viet Season 2 began, giving fresh energy to the domestic hip hop scene.
“Cried” dropped in January. For many, it was their first introduction to the mesmerizing talent named Ngô Cao Hoàng Việt, but better known as Hustlang’s VSoul. Of course, we got in a bit before that, with a guest mix for the magazine a month earlier. The autotuned artist can sing, rap and freestyle, as he’s just proved with an already legendary 8-bar freestyle on Rap Viet Season 2. And this was his statement of intent for the year, yearning and heartfelt, and full of singalong vibes.
Rhymastic x Suboi “CẢ NGÀN LỜI CHÚC“
Another January drop. This one arrived in time for Lunar New Year. Which lent the song its theme. But compared to the endless Tet releases with their energetic spring in their step, Rhymastic and Suboi tune the vibes down, with this chill track that redefined seasonal songs.
Juky San x RedT “PHẢI CHĂNG EM ĐÃ YÊU“
The ephemeral artist Juky San went flirtatious and fun on this RedT-written track that dropped in February. It was a big year for Juky San. She appeared on Times Square billboards this November, as the streaming company honored talented female artists around the world. And her track “PHẢI CHĂNG EM ĐÃ YÊU” was a sweet tale about a girl’s unrequited love for her crush.
hnhngan x Tyronee “INTERNET LOVE“
We all spent too long online this year. hnhngan x Tyronee predicted it, with their “Internet Love” that dropped in time for Valentine’s Day. hnhngan’s vocal talent is on full display as she trills her way through this love song. Listeners’ hearts duly melted. And ours too.
MCK x Sol7 “ICEMAN”
The star of Rap Viet Season 1, MCK teamed up with the soon-to-be star of Season 2, Sol7. Autotune featured in a number of songs this year. And it was a big year for MCK’s Rapital crew. Here, MCK and Sol7 employ autotune to full effect. The rappers trade melodic bars throughout “ICEMAN”, an instant classic.
RPT MCK x RPT PhongKhin “TAY TO”
March was definitely MCK’s month. In fact, he had a prolific year, and with rumors of an upcoming album that’s already generating attention, 2022 might be an even bigger year for the Hanoian artist. Here, he teamed up with another of the Rapital crew, PhonKhin, on the track taken from the EP Rapitalove. The laidback track has MCK dropping some spoken word and love-struck lyrics.
Binz x Đen ‘CHO MÌNH EM’
Collaborations don’t get much bigger than this. Binz, the artist behind Spacespeakers’ bangers like “BIGCITYBOY”, has a sensitive side. Perfect for a team-up with the introspective artist Đen. They’re two artists from different ends of the hip hop spectrum. But the dreamy, melancholic track displayed their talents superbly.
SƠN TÙNG M-TP “MUỘN RỒI MÀ SAO CÒN”
A year-end recap wouldn’t be complete with the superstar of Vietnamese pop, M-TP. The song opens with piano, the beat drops and M-TP takes off. There’s a soaring chorus, and some rapped verses. And “MUỘN RỒI MÀ SAO CÒN” quickly became one of the most ubiquitous and influential tracks of the year.
Juky San x Da LAB “THỞ“
Juky San returned with the Da LAB crew on the track “THỞ”. It’s epic from the moment the acoustic guitar kicks off the track. Da LAB’s verses are pure singalong vibes, and they provide the perfect foil for Juky San’s angelic voice. The singer leaves it late, dropping her verse at the end of this soaring hit. Irresistable.
Thịnh Suy “THANH“
A wonderfully fragile song by Thịnh Suy. “THANH” takes the acoustic charm of the previous track and dials it down as the track skips along. And Thịnh Suy expands on the promise he showed with “Một Đêm Say“.
B Ray and Han Sara’s “XIN ĐỪNG NHẤC MÁY” began as a demo that took over TikTok. And so it was a no-brainer to develop the track into an official release. The music video even begins with a scroll through social media. And B Ray is at his witty, lyrical best. The song is as catchy and effervescent as the Moet he sings about.
RPT Groovie x Tlinh x RPT MCK “XÍCH THÊM CHÚT (XTC REMIX)“
SMO x Lil Wuyn “JUMP“
Two underground legends, SMO and Lil Wuyn teamed up on “JUMP”. Naturally, the track was straight fire. And they got a video to match. Spot the rappers in the whip. There’s Blacka, Sol7 and lots of others waving out the window. And SMO is at his swirling psychedelic best. Lil Wuyn provides the perfect support with his deadpan delivery. Everybody hands in the air.
Gill x Kewtiie “SANG XỊN MỊN“
This was a big year for Gill too. And it really got interesting with this club banger featuring Kewtiie. The song, an ode to the luxury life, winds around a thumping beat and the simple lyrics are perfect for shouting out in the club. We could still hit the club in May.
Soobin x SlimV “THE PLAYAH” (SPECIAL PERFORMACE)
May really was a massive month for releases. And they didn’t come any bigger than this, Soobin’s “THE PLAYAH”. It was a release of huge ambition. An eight-minute remix of his “THE PLAYAH EP” that dropped in 2020 that’s hitting 40 million views on YouTube.
Anh Phan x Tùng Chùa “PHÚ QUÝ BÒ VIÊN”
And May marched on. “PHÚ QUÝ BÒ VIÊN” was undisputedly one of our tracks of the year. Anh Phan brought the chaos in a music video that features chain snatchings, gang violence, a kung fu camp, and flaming backflips. Plus there’s the guest turn from legendary bolero jailbird Tùng Chùa. And there’s that Laaria beat too, a bass-heavy banger. This is the sound of the Vietnamese underground in 2021.
Freaky x Seachains “GU”
It might have been cheesy, but Freaky and Seachains pull off “GU” with a catchy confidence. “Baby girl I like your moves…” the track begins as the duo serenade their crushes on the tennis court. And Seachains is ending the year big thanks to his feature on Rap Viet Season 2. But it really began to take off with this playful, fun ode to young love.
Đen x MTV Band “TRỐN TÌM”
Đen was back at it again in May with “TRỐN TÌM”. The music video was brilliant too in its simplicity. Đen’s an immovable tree around which life (and the wind) swirls. Full of sweetness and melancholy, the guitar plucks and the harmonica sails. And then the rain starts to fall for Đen and in our hearts too. And then, just like love, the tree is gone. Do we have to grow up?
RAPITAL x SpideyBoy x RPT Phong Khin “UầYYY”
We know. Rapital should start paying us rent they inhabit so much of our list of the best Vietnamese music of 2021. But f*ck it. They deserve it. Gang cypher “UầYYY” is another contender for track of the year. And the music video of the year too. While lots of their side-projects have been love-torn, MCK and crew proved they could still drop dark hip hop bangers like this. They even hit the tailor’s shop for the video streamed straight from Rapital HQ.
Hoàng Tôn x LyHan “TÌNH YÊU NGỦ QUÊN”
A feel-good pop hit, Hoàng Tôn x LyHan’s “TÌNH YÊU NGỦ QUÊN” lit up June. This was Hoàng Tôn’s third release of a busy year. And the track incorporates some winding R&B energy and LyHan’s super backing vocals.
Wren Evans “THÍCH EM HƠI NHIỀU“
This was Wren Evan’s breakout year too. The singer was embraced by Men’s Folio and the fashionistas thanks to his bleached hair and boyish good looks. And “THÍCH EM HƠI NHIỀU” was his moment. The video was cool too. A game of romantic musical chairs on a revolving stage. And in the middle, Wren coos away, on what quickly became another track of the year. Twenty-million views…and counting.
Tlinh x 2pillz x LastFire Crew “Gái Độc Thân”
More magic from Tlinh. The skipping reggaeton beat was a signature of lots of local music this year. And Tlinh brought it in. The lyrics typified her blooming confidence, as she sings a tribute to powerful female independence. This is “All The Single Ladies” Vietnam-style. She didn’t need nobody in 2021. But we needed Tlinh.
More gold from Gill. On “LÊN” Gill AKA Kidwine proved that “SANG XỊN MỊN” was no one-off. Another banger full of the Gill bounce. He shouts out our favorite rap crews Rapital, Hustlang and OTD. And in the MV directed by Wannasaur, features Gill playing tennis…against himself. Even the umpire takes a ball to the head. Boom! Woof! Ouchie!
Kay Trần “NẮM ĐÔI BÀN TAY”
The track “NẮM ĐÔI BÀN TAY” was a milestone for Kay Trần. The singer dipped under the MTP Entertainment umbrella. The poppy R&B vibes were an instant hit, with Kay Trần channeling some of M-TP’s commercial appeal.
Not a track, but the whole album. “NO-NÊ” was a perfect summary of Suboi’s work since her last album drop seven years ago. “This album is very special to me and it took a while,” she told fans upon its release. Some tracks had been heard before. But with music as good as “Cho Không”, “N-Sao?”, and “Bet On Me” who cares?
Tuimi x 16 Typh “SAO HOẢ”
Tuimi was a star in the making long before her appearance on King Of Rap. Back in 2019, she told us about the ten tracks that changed her life. Now her tracks are changing ours. The German-Vietnamese has roots in Hai Phong, so teaming up with another rapper from the port city made sense. Enter 16 Typh. On “SAO HOẢ” the two trade verses…and embraces as spacemen. Otherworldly.
B-Wine x V# “TOURIST”
B-Wine was back in August. On “TOURIST” the rapper switches between Vietnamese and English and V# drops the emotional backing vocals. B-Wine travels round the globe. Checks into the Park Hyatt. And the echoey track feels like dislocated jetlag dream.
B RAY “FYILY”
By September, B Ray had dropped a mini album. With his typically sharp flow, the artist intertwined various narratives into the lyrics that became this project. Brilliant. He even plugged in a special appearance from Karik on “LẠ QUÁ”.
Renja x Slow T x Lil Wuyn x Kain x Sugar Cane “PHI HÀNH GIA”
Artists embraced outer space this year. There was the 70K party for aliens, astronauts and androids. Then Tuimi and 16 Typh went to outer space. And this gang track was astronaut-themed too. Maybe Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ space race had put the theme in the air. “PHI HÀNH GIA” was like a call from an intergalactic hip hop space station. The beat bangs, and Lil Wuyn drops an unforgettable verse.
Low G x Thắng “AN THẦN”
With no fanfare, Low G and Ngot frontman Thắng dropped “AN THẦN” in October. The indie artist switched to rapping replete with autotune, sharing a mic with Low G for the first time. The spontaneity continues with the music video. The two trade off in a dark room before raiding a convenience store.
SpaceSpeakers “FREAKY SQUAD”
By the end of the year, perhaps because of the aftershocks of lockdown, or maybe because everyone was preparing releases for the new year, things had slowed down a bit. That left the road clear for SpaceSpeakers. So the crew dropped “FREAKY SQUAD”. It was the perfect warm-up for the second season of Rap Viet. Everyone drops by, from Rhymastic and Justatee, to Soobin and Binz. Classic SpaceSpeakers energy.
16 Typh x 16 BrT x Lil Wuyn x R.I.C “SUNDAY HIPHOP CYPHER”
A nationwide team-up, rappers 16 Typh x 16 BrT x Lil Wuyn x R.I.C joined together from north to south on this “SUNDAY HIPHOP CYPHER”. Unlike the end of the weekend, this tracks bursts with energy, with every rapper on the track making the most of their slot. Sundays will never be the same.
The Hustlang gang ended the year on a high. VSoul has been a star of Rap Viet. And Robe, crew founder, dipped from the show to drop “Lillyhammer”. The video features crew members like Babygang, as the production switches into afro-beat mode. And the line “We gonna be alright” is the perfect mantra as we tread nervously into 2022.
Check the Spotify playlist of our songs of the year.
Translation by David Kaye