Rapper Den Vau’s latest music video, ‘Di Trong Mua He’ (Walk In The Summer), is generating opprobrium for unsportsmanlike and patriarchal spirit.
The MV currently leads the trending chart on YouTube Vietnam with over 4.5 million views after two days.
As is usual with the artist, the single has rhythmic lyrics and a simple and easy-to-listen melody.
It is divided into three sections.
It compares football with life in the first part, calling it “journeys to fulfill dreams.” In the second, Den Vau raps about sublimation of emotions while celebrating the home team’s victory with people waving the Vietnamese flag high in the sky. The final section is a conversation about the young couple’s love of football.
But the lyrics have sparked a debate online, with many criticizing it for negative sentiments such as: “The opponent is like a lover, who always following me. But the lover hopes to keep me healthy, while the opponent wants me to get injured.”
Nguyen Tuan Linh, who has heard the song, said the lyrics have a hint of violence with phrases like “spear and arrow,” “garrison” and others, and portrays a rival sports team as an enemy.
Blogger Hai Tam Chin suggested in an online post that was later shared by hundreds of people that the song could encourage uncivilized behavior by some football fans in the name of love for the sport.
“I understand the emotional distress caused by an injury to a home team player, but the lyrics is a bit unsportsmanlike. Don’t always think of yourself as a victim and the opposing team as always the ‘villain’ and believe they want to injure us.”
Many people also believe Den Vau’s lyrics portray a patriarchal man in the third verse of the song: “On the Internet I’m a moderate, sometimes at home I’m a conservative. Normally you’re the boss of the house, but when the whistle blows, the position has to be given back to its rightful owner…”
Hoa Nguyen, a general listener, said: “Is it because you love football that if I change the channel, you have the right to be violent to me?”
According to poet Nguyen Phong Viet, when composing and writing lyrics for his new song, Den Vau simply wanted to create catchy rhyming words to match the beat of the song. However, in the context of cheering for football teams, the lyrics came across as inappropriate, if not downright unsportsmanlike, he said.
“Stories about love and family can be just as personal, but with a topic as popular as sports, Den Vau could have lost objectivity somewhat and not anticipated the negative reactions he received.
“This is very unfortunate for someone who is known for being extremely cautious with his lyrics.”
But some also said that rap lyrics should be seen in the totality of a song rather than sentence by sentence and it is meaningless to draw inferences that way.
On YouTube some praised Den Vau’s compositions, commenting on his lyrics and melody.
Luong Le Minh wrote: “Some of the song’s messages might be considered aggressive, sexist… However, rap is a genre where words are sometimes ‘overdone.’ If you listen to the entire song, you will notice that Den Vau has no bad intentions.”
Rapper Ha Le commented that Den Vau is skilled at selecting words and messages, and so he probably did not intend to abet unsportsmanlike behavior or patriarchy, but merely sought to promote men’s love of sports.
“The song’s concept and rhyme are completely acceptable to me. The rap lines in the song are very real, perhaps reflecting what Den Vau has witnessed in many Vietnamese families. Everyone, however, has the right to express themselves.”
Besides its lyrics, the song was also criticized for other aspects.
For instance, some said a scene in the MV of motorcycles going around in circles is similar to American singer The Weeknd’s performance at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards.
In a public statement Thursday, the rapper said he wrote the song out of love for football rather than to promote unsportsmanlike behavior and patriarchy.
“When I write, I edit the lyrics a lot so that listeners can focus on the love of football and share the joy of winning with each other, not to promote anything negative.”
He was inspired to write it by a football-crazy couple living near his house, he said.
It depicts a man who enjoys football but is terrified of his wife, he said.
He said in an interview with VnExpress in January that making controversial music is never his intention.
“I just want people who listen to my music to feel at ease and let go of their worries and to accompany them during happy and sad moments.”
Den Vau, real name Nguyen Duc Cuong, 33, was born in the northern Quang Ninh Province.
For seven years prior to singing, he worked as a garbage collector.
He shot to fame with viral hits like ‘Dua Nhau Di Tron’ (Taking Each Other To Hide) and ‘Troi Oi Con Chua Muon Chet’ (I Don’t Want To Die Yet) and others.
He owns the proud record of having the most MVs in the top trending chart on YouTube: 12.
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