Vietnam’s rap queen goes by the name of Suboi, and she has a lot to say.
Her most recent hit and music video, Doi, is a whirlwind of neon and hard-hitting moves within a set based on a traditional Vietnamese shrine. She based the storyline on her father at the time he lost their family home and how he dealt with the humiliation of failing as the man of the family. The song is meant to show that things in life are unexpected and there are two ways to handle it, embodied by two personas in the video: One who is consumed by her anger and the other who remains calm amidst the storm.
Rap wasn’t a thing in Vietnam when Suboi was a young, rebellious teenager growing up in Saigon, but she did have Will Smith and Eminem has her two musical inspirations, leading to her exposure to the more “colorful” words of the English language. Now a 26-year-old and well-established as one of Vietnam’s most successful rappers (a female one, no less, gasp!!) this power house is pushing Vietnam’s censorship boundaries with wildly clever wordplay in both English and Vietnamese that allows her to speak out with criticism embedded within her existing themes of social pressures, family and love.
“I have to use metaphors all the time,” she says. “It gives me a sense of a challenge that I have to go any way around what I want to say.”
She was the first Vietnamese artist to be invited to last year’s SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, and she killed the game so hard that she was invited back for this year’s festival. She may be small in stature but certainly not in stage-presence.
“I feel like I belong to the stage,” she stated. “When I reach out for the audience, they’re there.”
This girl exudes confidence and swagger not only through her music, but also her killer street style which has been noticed by several brands who have scooped her up, including Adidas. Clearly, Suboi is slowly but surely becoming an international icon and we’re stoked for her next rap queen genius release.
*She was in a nu-metal band as a teenager that performed only Linkin Park covers. We’d die to get some audio on that.