Vietnam rapper Suboi stays under the radar – for now
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Hip-hop artist has found ways of getting round the country's censorship laws and is gaining fans – and haters. She is known as Vietnam's queen of hip-hop, an outspoken artist who raps via coded lyrics about family, love, social pressures and illegal substances in a country where artists regularly worry about being visited by the authorities. But Suboi, 23, is defiant. As the first female rapper to make it big in the communist country of 92 million, she said that censorship – and how to get around it – is always on her mind.
"It's a big thing here if you say anything bad about [the government], because maybe you'll just 'disappear'," the tiny artist said over noodles in a downtown Ho Chi Minh City cafe. "Obviously you can't say it straight – we're still too worried to talk openly about the government and politics – so you pretend to write a love song but you have to read between the lines. Otherwise they'll ban you." Born Hàng Lâm Trang Anh to a middle-class family in Ho Chi Minh City, Suboi began singing in an underground nu-metal band at 17, when she discovered the various rapping styles of Linkin Park, Will Smith, Mos Def and Rakim.