Saigoneer

Back Arts & Culture » Music & Art » Quãng 8 » From Germany to 'King of Rap' Runner-up: How Tuimi Becomes a Hip-Hop Breakout Star

From Germany to 'King of Rap' Runner-up: How Tuimi Becomes a Hip-Hop Breakout Star

Tuimi, a Vietnamese German singer and rapper, has become one of the most notable female voices in the local hip-hop scene and been making big waves since her return in 2019.

 

No.1 Seed

In 2020, Tuimi made an explosive debut on Vietnamese television when she took second place in the smash-hit show King of Rap, but her rise to stardom started much earlier in Western Europe. Tuimi, whose real name is Phạm Thuỳ Mi, was born to Vietnamese immigrant parents in 1994 Dresden, Germany. She was the first Vietnamese female artist to receive grants from the country’s annual art incubator program, and one of the few Vietnamese to have worked at Universal Music’s German headquarter.

Tuimi, one of many talented new artists leading the hip-hop scene in Vietnam.

In grade school, having an affection for R&B and hip-hop, she began developing an interest in doing music, which she pursued as she got older and moved to New York, eventually earning an internship at a prominent record label and becoming more involved in the underground music scene. By 2017, Tuimi’s time come when her single 'Purpose' took a top spot on Spotify charts just two weeks after its release.

Though she was born and raised abroad, Tuimi's parents made sure she had a great command of Vietnamese. At one point, Tuimi’s family even sent her to their hometown so that she could learn to read and write the language.

“In 2018, I returned to Vietnam after six years and saw a lot of changes in the country. Major streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music had sprouted up, and I thought it was the right time and a good opportunity to capitalize on. Vietnamese were also more thoughtful in choosing and consuming music, thus I decided to come back,” Tuimi says.

"Homebound"

Considering her early success in Germany, one would assume that Tuimi would develop her career there. But at the end of 2019, the young artist made a decisive return to Vietnam in hopes of bridging the Vietnamese art scene with the world.

Upon returning, a fresh face with practically no industry footprint, Tuimi found herself fortunate to have a promising start. “I knew and connected with a few Vietnamese artists before returning home, some of whom were prominent names like Suboi, Datmaniac or Kimmese. I actually even got to share a stage with Suboi way back in 2018.”

Tuimi and Datmaniac in the recording booth.

To test the water, Tuimi released 'Menina Misteriosa' — an sultry track that boasts R&B and melodic rap sounds, which helped her gain attention and solidified her arrival.

As of now, Tuimi's songs are still predominantly written in English because her Vietnamese needs further polishing. "But recently, I've been reading books of all kinds, from spiritual guides to fiction novels, to improve my vocabulary and word usage. I think I need to work harder on my Vietnamese lyrics," she says.

'Menina Misteriosa.'

Tuimi's first breakout act in Vietnam was when she became a runner-up on the first season of King of Rap, where she scored major points by delivering fiery and powerful stage performances week after week.

The rapper admits that she was hesitant to join the show, but signed up after being encouraged by friends and families, and ultimately gave the performances of her life. Ironically, the further she advanced in the competition, the easier she took it, as she realized that it was merely a playground for rappers, and there was nothing to “lose.”

“Every time I went on that stage, I performed as if it were my last,” she says. With that spirit, she presented to the audience a new side of her every broadcast, each more impressive and colorful than the last. In turn, her ability to own the stage and her Vietnamese lyrics reached new heights.

A visual from "softcore | hardshell," Tuimi's debut full-length album.

Thanks to her King of Rap momentum, Tuimi's musical releases, even those from before the show, received more interest from listeners.

Among them is her debut album "softcore | hardshell” — an experimental production composed in three languages ​​— English, Vietnamese, and Portuguese. The album is a stellar blend of R&B, hip-hop, and melodic rap; and features local rappers such as Ricky Star, Gizmo, and Zuy, showing a growing Vietnamese influence in her creative process.

A successful album is something that you can listen to 50 years later and still be satisfied with its production.

Shedding light on releasing an album as a rookie, Tuimi compared her album making process to planting a tree. To have a tree, one must choose a plant, sow the seed, fertilize the soil, and watch for pests until the tree can bloom and bear fruit. Likewise, an album needs to be planned, composed and given the right songs, then produced, arranged, photographed, and edited to perfection so that it can be enjoyed by everyone. .

Tuimi confessed that she didn’t have very high expectations for "softcore | hardshell," and was pleasantly surprised when the "tree" she had planted was nourished by outpouring support from fans, friends and colleagues alike.

No. 2 Seed

After a successful debut album and a victory in the battle arena, the hip-hop vocalist has shown distinctive growth in her musical personality. This is also a leverage for her to plant the seed for her next studio album, which is expected to hit shelves in December of this year. According to Tuimi, her sophomore album would be a reprisal of R&B that’s sure to keep fans on the edge of their seats with up-tempo sensual melodies.

To kickstart her new album, Tuimi released the single ‘Sao Hoả’ (Mars) with feature artist 16 Typh — a sirenic track where she continues to conquer listeners with her sultry R&B vocals.

Music video of  'Sao Hỏa.'

When asked about the inspiration for the song, Tuimi laughs: "I was depressed about being on Earth, and I just wanted to fly to the moon or Mars, so I just wrote down what I felt. The beat had been made before that. After I finished writing the lyrics, I found the beat again and thought that it fit, so I went ahead and used it."

One of the things that Tuimi felt most satisfied about when producing this track was "the ability to write Vietnamese lyrics more fluently, sounding more native than ever before."

“'Sao Hoả’ was my least expensive music video ever. It didn’t cost me any money because I used free stock footage, and the female actress’s figure was similar to mine too," Tuimi reveals.

In less than two years since her debut in the Vietnamese hip-hop scene, Tuimi has been making strides thanks to her steadfast devotion to R&B, and her exquisite lyrical and melodic expression. We can't wait to see how her musical tree will continue to flower in the time to come.

Quãng 8, which means "octave" in Vietnamese, is a series of articles on Vietnam's new generation of unique music personalities. Know an interesting musician and want to introduce them to our readers? Send us an email via contribute@saigoneer.com with your ideas.

Related Articles

in Quãng 8

Indie Quintet Whee! Brings Their Eclectic Sounds to the Local Music Scene

Making their debut in the midst of the pandemic with a cryptically named album, Whee! offers listeners a down-to-earth and prismatic experience that draws from the musicians' harmonic bond. 

in Quãng 8

Kim Chi Sun and Charles on the Evolution of Good

"I haven’t lost myself yet, but there are many new angles of me, new realizations; there are some new feelings, new vibes I want to share with you. I want to open up to you," Kim Chi Sun says to her l...

in Quãng 8

Meet Cam, the Idiosyncratic Rapper Telling Stories Through Music

Born from the streets, rap/hip-hop often features confrontational lyrics and intense performances. But to Lê Văn Toàn, who goes by the stage name Cam, rap is like a canvas to bare his heart; chronicle...

in Quãng 8

Built on Rock, Raditori's Music Shines Thanks to Whimsy and Unpredictability

With the release of their ambitious debut album "Những Con Người," Raditori is making a name for themselves in the local rock scene.

in Quãng 8

MINH Epitomizes a New Generation of Introspective, Worldly Vietnamese Musicians

Dressed in a casual white tee and black jeans, when I met MINH he gleefully opened up about the development that was taking place on his musical path.

in Quãng 8

Meet Hooligan., the Whimsical Pop Star Behind Sleeper Hit 'To the Moon'

‘To The Moon,’ a dreamy pop song that draws on the unlikely fusion of doo-wop and electro, has gained an earworm status among starstruck listeners.