News / Arts & Entertainment

    Vietnam Uses Rap to Capture Young Audience

    "Rappers Vo Viet Phuong, 25, and Nguyen Trong Duc, 27, record the latest edition of Rap News Plus at Vietnam News Agency's television studio in central Hanoi, Vietnam, July 15, 2014. (VOA/Marianne Brown)
    "Rappers Vo Viet Phuong, 25, and Nguyen Trong Duc, 27, record the latest edition of Rap News Plus at Vietnam News Agency's television studio in central Hanoi, Vietnam, July 15, 2014. (VOA/Marianne Brown)
    Marianne Brown

    Despite government controls, the Vietnamese media industry is evolving as it faces growing competition from digital content. One website has come up with an innovative way to woo young audiences - by rapping the news.

    So far there have been 17 bi-monthly editions of Rap News Plus, mostly published via video-sharing platforms. On YouTube, some editions have been viewed over 500,000 times.

    While the latest is a special sports edition to celebrate the end of the World Cup, most include news events covered in the rest of the Vietnamese media.

    Vietnam Plus editor Le Quoc Minh said he came up with the idea when trying to find a way to make news appealing to people aged 13-25, a demographic which he said has lost interest in current affairs.

    “We need to bring them something new, something funny. But the way we select and the way we present it’s serious enough. I bring the seriousness to the young people using their own language, their own taste, their own style. That’s my concept,” he explained.
     

     
    One of the catchiest editions was published at the height of tensions with China following the deployment of an oil rig in waters also claimed by Vietnam. Vo Viet Phuong, 25 is one of the three rappers involved. "I cut the chorus of this and uploaded it to my Soundcloud and then people downloaded it for a ringtone," he said.

    Not a new concept

    While rapping the news is not entirely new, it is certainly a novelty in Vietnam, particularly because Vietnam Plus operates under the umbrella of the official Vietnam News Agency, VNA, which is known for its conservative approach.

    “Many others are very surprised that we have such a thing on Vietnam Plus because we belong to something really conservative, very mainstream. We do not come from a company or something entertaining, but we produce something very entertaining and informative,” said Minh. 

    In Vietnam, according to law, every publication has to have some kind of institutional sponsor, but instead of calling the media “government controlled” it is more accurate to say “government licensed,” said David Brown, a former U.S. diplomat and Vietnam expert.
     
    “In many cases, particularly the two dozen dailies and handful of magazines, serious magazines that are also making a profit, the relationship with the sponsor is only nominal,” he noted.

    That said, there are restrictions on what can and cannot be discussed. Editors are given weekly guidance and occasional punishment if they are too slow to follow instructions on “no-go” things, he added.

    Most newspapers depend on a government subsidy of some sort and “pretty much color within the lines,” he said.

    However, those publications which are profit-making are more likely to push boundaries.

    “In general any publication which is essentially profit-making they are looking at ways to cater to the things people want to read and they are interesting," he stated. "Even if there are no-go areas, such as shall we say a profound discussion of the relationship between the Vietnamese and Chinese Communist parties or something like that.”

    Using the Internet platform

    At the moment, Rap News Plus does not make a profit. Minh and his team cover the costs of making the videos, but the rappers do not get paid. Minh said his priority is to maintain journalistic integrity.

    Companies can sponsor or have pop-ups, but they won’t mention brands in their bulletins.

    “We have to respect our listeners. We are talking about the news, not the brands. Even if they bring us the money but we cannot accept this kind of money,” said Minh.

    Rap News Plus is not pushing boundaries with content, but the format is a groundbreaking step for the Vietnamese journalism industry. The challenge now will be to keep it new and fresh for fickle young fans.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Halleyhaha from: Hanoi
    July 31, 2014 1:11 AM
    They're cool. Hope you guys will be doing this better and better.

    by: Mậm Vân from: Hanoi- Vietnam
    July 30, 2014 11:55 AM
    yahh. its amazing. Vietnamese young really love them.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    New in Music Alley

    Soul Lounge: Sweet Honey in the Rocki
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    February 10, 2016 1:48 PM
    For over 40 years Sweet Honey In The Rock has entertained audiences around the globe with their signature blend of Blues, African, Gospel and R&B. The Grammy award winning group stopped by The Soul Lounge to perform and share their story as well as how they plan to keep African American musical traditions alive.

    For over 40 years Sweet Honey In The Rock has entertained audiences around the globe with their signature blend of Blues, African, Gospel and R&B.   The Grammy award winning group stopped by The Soul Lounge to perform and share their story as well as how they plan to keep African American musical traditions alive.