During his trip to Vietnam this week, President Obama informed the country’s top female rapper that sexism and gender stereotyping is a feature of the American music industry, just as it is in Vietnam.
Suboi — dubbed the “Queen of Hip-Hop” in Vietnam — asked Obama a question, to which the president responded: “Before I answer your question, why don’t you give me a little rap?”
After turning down Obama’s offer to beatbox a rhythm while she delivered her freestyle for him in Vietnamese, the rapper, 26-year-old Hang Lam Trang Anh, recited a verse about income inequality and rich people being truly unhappy despite their wealth.
“I was just talking about some people having a lot of money, big houses, but actually, are they really happy?” she told the president, who appeared to be impressed by the impromptu performance.
“That was pretty good,” Obama said to the crowd as they applauded Suboi’s performance. “See that? That was pretty good.”
The president and Suboi then continued their conversation about the kinds of sexism that exists in the United States and in Vietnam.
“A lot of stereotypes like me, an Asian rapper, is like looking at a cute girl,” Suboi said.
“Is that what they’re thinking?” Obama asked laughing.
“But for Vietnamese people, they think rapping is not for women,” Suboi said.
“But that’s true in the United States, too,” Obama responded. The crowd laughed, and he tried to explain: “I just mean that there’s always been sexism and gender stereotypes in the music industry, like every other part of life.”
The spontaneous rap show happened during President Obama’s town hall-style meeting Tuesday between himself and young Vietnamese people in Ho Chi Minh City.
Suboi has released two studio albums, 2010’s Walk and the 2014 follow-up RUN. She is considered the first female rapper to be successful in Vietnam.
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