On the final day of his visit to Vietnam, President Barack Obama beatboxed at a town hall and requested a rap from Vietnam’s “Queen of Hip-Hop” in a moment that tied into the issue of free speech.
Obama had spent part of his three-day stay in the country promoting free speech, the Associated Press reports, before this lovely encounter at a town hall meeting on Wednesday. In the clip above, he first asks 26-year-old Vietnamese rapper Suboi to spit a verse for him. “Before I answer your question, why don’t you give me a little rap, let’s see what you got,” he says. “Come on. Do you need like a little beat?” And then he beatboxes.
“Yes, I do actually,” says Suboi, choosing to rhyme in Vietnamese, after which she explains that her rap was about “some people having a lot of money, having big houses, but actually are they really happy?” She says of the stereotype in her country, “They think rapping is not, like, for women.”
Obama mentions that sexism in music is the case in America as well, telling Suboi, “There’s always been sexism and gender stereotypes in the music industry, like in every other part of life.”
But the issue is obviously amplified in Vietnam under its heavy artistic restrictions. In an interview earlier this month with Dazed & Confused, Suboi talked about the hoops many Vietnamese artists have to jump through. “If I want to release songs nationwide I have to go through censorship – the songs must be approved by the ministry of culture,” she said. “If lyrics are not in Vietnamese, they have to be translated. I’ve been warned about what would not be ‘appropriate’ when I first started so I wrote my lyrics within the limit.”