Update: 09:00 | 02/11/2020
Vietnamese rap artists have managed to drag their music from underground and into the mainstream.
For the last three months Nguyen Thanh Huy and his friends at a university in Hanoi have a new Saturday evening rendezvous: at a coffee shop to watch a TV reality show that seeks to unearth talented rappers.
Judges and coaches on ‘Rap Viet’ are famous rappers.
After each episode they rewatch it on YouTube and talk about it with friends.
Huy, 21, says: "I did not like rap since it used to be associated with gangsters and street culture, but not any more. There are a lot of famous rappers in Vietnam with beautiful songs."
The young man is among millions of Vietnamese who have been hooked on rap music recently.
Rap, which was earlier not popular in Vietnam due to its dark and violent content, slowly won over young music lovers before finding its ways into the mainstream.
The genre first appeared in Vietnam in the late 1990s but did not attract many fans until around a decade ago when many rappers became popular on the Internet.
In the last few years dozens of rap artists, mostly underground, have appeared and achieved success with their music videos getting millions of views and shows attracting tens of thousands of fans.
One of the most prominent faces is Den Vau, famous on the underground and independent music scenes and an icon of rap lovers in recent years.
He first came to prominence with the massive success of "Dua Em Di Tron" (Taking You To A Hideaway) in 2015, which fetched him several awards.
Last year he was the most streamed domestic artist in Vietnam on Spotify, the world’s biggest music streaming service, and his concert in Ho Chi Minh City sold 5,000 tickets in 10 minutes. Den Vau’s latest song "Troi Hom Nay Nhieu May Cuc" (It Is Cloudy Today), has amassed 18 million views and 614,000 likes on YouTube.
Names like Binz, Suboi, Wowy, LK, Khoi, Karik, Big Daddy, and B Ray also have many hits under their belt and millions of fans, marking the rise of the genre in the Vietnamese music industry.
A performance by Den Vau in October 2019. The rapper is well-known for his poetic lyrics.
In October, Rapper Binz’s music video 'Bigcityboi' has impressed U.S. entertainment website Billboard, which has hailed his performance. The video has raked in over 62 million views on YouTube, and made its way to the video-sharing site’s Top Trending in several countries within 12 hours of its premiere on July.
In August something unprecedented happened: rap made its way to national television.
Reality shows looking for talented rappers began to air on prime time on Saturday nights, wowing audiences and smashing TV records.
Videos of performances from the shows got millions of hits on YouTube and thousands of comments. One episode had more than 700,000 concurrent viewers on the streaming platform, a record for a TV show in Vietnam.
The influence of foreign culture brought rap to young Vietnamese, but it not gain prominence until local rappers began to write lyrics with more diverse stories, poetic words and metaphors and similes.