African and Caribbean music in Hanoi

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Naby reggae concert in Hanoi
Naby reggae concert in Hanoi

A few years ago probably most Vietnamese people in Hanoi had no idea what reggae was and we also didn’t care if Jamaica was in America or Africa. And in fact even now a lot of Vietnamese people still don’t have a clue (not we are dumb at geography but Africa and Caribbean are just physically and “mentally” too far from Vietnam).

However, the modern trend of globalization is creating changes in the fastest manner! In Hanoi now we even have an African reggae band! How marvelous is that! Also we have to acknowledge a lot of efforts from the cultural institutes, especially the French speaking community such as L’Espace or the Wallonie-Bruxelles Delegation, for bringing many African acts to Hanoi, so that Vietnamese people can start to get used to a “new” taste of music.

Being a Vietnamese, I’m also a dummy at African and Caribbean music. The first time I ever heard of Bob Marley was sometime in 2008 from a Swiss friend, and at that time I completely ignored his music since I was way too stuck with Nirvana, Guns n Roses and Scorpions(!) Then I also don’t remember exactly when I started to go beyond “No woman no cry” to really discover this “new” world of music. And swear to God, now I’m totally in love with it!

Compared with Bob Marley’s reggae, African music is faster, more joyful and more energetic, actually the beats are a bit different as well. Watch the two videos below then you can compare them yourself:

Bob Marley’s Africa Unite:

Ugandan Radio n Weasel’s Bread n Butter:

The thing I like most about African and Caribbean music is the way how we can free our body when dancing with it. It’s nothing like the Western fast beats when you have to literally jump or run around till exhausted, but it’s peaceful, it’s rhythmic and damn, it’s sexy! The best way to learn how to make the moves is to watch and learn directly from the Africans. They are easy to find, all you need to do is to look for the spotlights on the dance floors. It seems like every black person is born with an innate ability to dance and sing.

However, there’s one thing I always don’t understand.. Why music from the poorer parts of the world such as Africa and Latin America are always so cheerful and happy while music from the developed parts like Europe and North America sometimes just make people want to shoot themselves? My mom said probably it was because if one’s life was already miserable they didn’t need to listen to depressing music anymore, or else what reasons should they live for. Maybe it’s true?

So my dear Vietnamese friends who don’t know about Bob Marley yet, how about taking a break from all those classic rock or modern pop songs and start discovering something new? Listen to reggae and African music, smile with it, dance with it. It doesn’t hurt to try, as said by Bob Marley himself: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”. And even if you don’t like what you hear then you’ve just learnt a bit more about the world. And knowledge counts anyway.

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2 thoughts on “African and Caribbean music in Hanoi

    an danh said:
    August 29, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    Noi ve reggae , thuc ra o VN nguoi ta da nghe the loai nay tu cuoi nhung nam 80, dau 90 qua cac nhac pham cua UB40 roi. Moi toi hoi do ko biet no la reggae thoi.

      Pham Hoang Mien responded:
      August 29, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      Ừ nhỉ, bạn nói mình mới để ý. Đúng là UB40 chơi reggae thật. Tuy nhiên nội dung thì vẫn rất là.. châu Âu, rất.. pop, dễ lọt tai hơn reggae của châu Phi hay Caribbean.

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