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[Videos] Hanoian Rappers Take Center Stage on Pan-Asian Music Platform

Staring straight into the camera, Emcee L addresses his viewers with confidence.

“Yo, I'm Emcee L from Hanoi,” he says, shifting his weight as he looks into the lens. Behind him, the vibrant colors of a Hanoian street swim out of focus. “What's up, Soi TV?”

That’s all the introduction the Hanoi-based rapper bothers to provide before launching into a minute-long freestyle somewhere in the capital. 

Founded in December 2015, Soi TV aims to be the first pan-Asian online music platform. Its website features a host of similar, bite-sized clips, in which independent musicians from across the continent showcase their talents for the camera.

“[Because of] our desire as filmmakers to document creativity in the region and the fact there was no existing platform that covered our vision, we decided to go and build our own,” Soi’s music curator, Jillian Rachel Tan, tells Saigoneer via email.

Drawing inspiration from London’s SBTV, another successful online music channel, Tan and her team now seek to bring Asia’s wealth of independent musical talent to a wider audience. From Hong Kong to Thailand, Singapore to Malaysia, the site's video clips feature dozens of artists in one-take outdoor performances. These unedited videos, Tan explains, go a long way to highlighting each performer's raw talent as well as their larger environment.

“In an age where music videos are very engineered and full of CGI, we are interested in capturing the true face of the artists,” she says. “The reason we shoot one-take outdoor video is to give the audience the sense of actually being there, to provide a more personal and immediate experience for the audience that you cannot get from a music video. A video shot in a recording studio for example can look like it could be anywhere. We want to bring character and context to the artist’s performance.”

For its latest installment of videos, Soi made its first-ever trip to Hanoi to get acquainted with some of Vietnam’s independent musical talents. In the capital, Tan’s team joined forces with Dunkare, a local hip-hop magazine, to connect with rappers KraziNoyze and Emcee L as well as musician JGKiD.

“The Hanoi rappers were all very friendly and excited to show us what they can do,” says Tan. “We have only completed one shoot in Hanoi and yet to visit Saigon, so it’s hard to tell how the rap scene in Vietnam compares with the rest of Southeast Asia.  Knowing how diverse Vietnam itself is, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a big difference in styles even between Hanoi and Saigon, let alone other countries.”

Tan and her team hope to one day return to Vietnam to document more of the country’s musicians. In the meantime, however, you can head to the website to enjoy Soi Music TV’s first group of Vietnamese artists, not to mention the dozens of other Southeast Asian musicians featured in this ambitious online project.

[Videos courtesy of Soi Music TV]

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