Vietnamese take stand against trashy music

By Hieu Nhan   October 8, 2021 | 06:42 am PT
Many artists and fans were outraged after a rap song featuring incestuous lyrics received millions of views on social media.

On Oct. 5, a hashtag #muachoconchiecongtay (buy me a handcuff) appeared in the trendy suggestion tab of TikTok, attracting more than 720,000 views.

All videos under this hashtag used the same background song with a fast tempo, poppy melody and lyrics about the relationship between a woman and her father-in-law, originally performed as 'Censored' by a male rapper who participated in the popular TV show 'King Of Rap' with the stage name Chi Ca.

Many versions of the song have been posted on YouTube and Facebook and received hundreds of thousands of views.

In addition to 'Censored', many songs featuring sensitive language have been popularized across domestic social networking platforms in recent years.

Rapper Chi Ca, author of viral song Censored. Photo courtesy of King Of Rap

Rapper Chi Ca, author of viral song 'Censored'. Photo courtesy of King Of Rap

The music video (MV) for 'Cypher Nha Lam' (Homemade Cypher) released by Low G, Teddie J, Chi, and ResQ focused on flirting and sex. The MV has pocketed 6.8 million views with nearly 4,000 comments on YouTube after more than four months of release.

Rapper BigDaddy's song 'May That May' (rough translation, Oh So Smooth) includes lyrics many believe refer to female body curves. Even though the MV is now hidden on YouTube, remixes have appeared across social media.

Meanwhile, rapper Rhymastic's 'Tuong' (Statue) uses a lot of vulgar language. The Rap Nha Lam (Homemade Rap) artist group created a song narrating the journey of the Buddha, but remixed the lyrics with offensive language. The song's MV on YouTube also grafted the face of a member of the group onto the image of the Buddha.

Thu Huong, a 46-year-old from Hanoi, said she was shocked when she heard the Censored lyrics in the video via an acquaintance's TikTok account.

"Since I couldn't fully hear all the lyrics, I didn't understand what the song was about at first. Then after listening to it two more times, I was really surprised by the vulgar words. I don't understand how they can write lyrics like that and post it all over social networks."

She worries her son, who is currently in sixth grade, might listen to the song and absorb unhealthy content when using the phone for entertainment.

Musician The Hien, a member of Ho Chi Minh City Music Association, said he was angry and couldn't believe his ears when he heard the viral songs at first.

"In my opinion, these songs are not true musical works since they don't contain cultural and artistic value," he said.

Musician Nguyen Van Chung said the phenomenon of trashy music has emerged over the past few years, but recently gained higher popularity, adding 'buy me a handcuff' is very inappropriate.

"For me, no matter what genre of music, it must have humane and artistic value. The song's title and lyrics must be meaningful," Chung said.

Experts say trashy music is gaining ground because it can be released by anyone, boosted by the explosive growth of social networks.

Nguyen Quang Long, a music researcher, said in the past, when wanting to release a song, artists had to submit a dossier to a review board for a license to release it to the public. Currently, individuals can record and produce MVs by themselves and post it online.

He thinks the rise of trashy songs show the ease and lack of responsibility towards the community of some people involved in composing popular music.

"Sensitive and vulgar language will have a great influence on young people who often spend most of their time on social media," he said.

According to British online newspaper The Independent, TikTok is the social media platform loved by young people as 16-24 year olds make up 60 percent of total users.

Late on Oct. 5, Chi Ca apologized to the audience, explaining that when he composed the song, she didn't intend for it to reach the public.

"I did not expect the song to be shared so widely. I will delete the song and hide it on social platforms and request TikTok to take down those videos for violating copyright," the male rapper said.

On the morning of Oct. 6, members of Rap Nha Lam went to Quan Su Pagoda in Hanoi, the headquarters of the Central Committee of Vietnam Buddhists, kneeling to repent and apologize for offending religion. They also removed the video from YouTube.

On the other hand, a few artists think that songs have sensitive lyrics because they were curated for a specific audience and environment. BigDaddy said his songs are in the hip hop genre, so the language can be bit rough to some listeners. But since his songs are to be played in bars, pubs or at parties to help people feel happy and connected, he "added some surprise" elements to the song.

Musician Duong Khac Linh said he grew up abroad and was exposed to underground music that is often even more vulgar than mainstream music. According to him, art is the expression of the artist's inner self and personality. They can express their creativity with any form or word. The audience can choose to listen or not and can like or dislike the song.

However, from the perspective of Vietnamese culture, he understands why people object.

"For the most part, the public thinks that art must be beautiful. They are also afraid that music will affect their children's education. However, banning such songs may be impossible in modern times. With today's digital technology, I think the education factor from the family and the perception of each viewer is very important," Linh said.

Trashy music is popular in the digital age and is common across many countries around the world.

In American publication Rollingstone, a spokesperson for TikTok admitted the platform had difficulty managing videos with profanity.

Meanwhile, Youtube and Facebook have limited the age of viewers reporting violations of community standards.

According to statistics posted on China’s largest newspaper People's Daily in 2019, every day, Douyin, China's domestic version of Tiktok, has about 10,000 new tunes uploaded. This number is now multiplying at the same rate as user growth. Some songs are banned on online music sites in China, but still easily appear in user videos on Douyin with content deemed sexist, disrespectful to women, and promoting the use of narcotic.

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