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[Video] Rap Song Offers Glimpses Into the Lives, Loves and Labors of Hanoi Residents

The British rapper behind 'Oi Gioi Oi' and 'Find Me in the Mountains' has just released a new video, titled 'The Charming Beast,' describing his mixed experiences of living in Vietnam’s beautiful but chaotic capital city as a foreign resident.

Ian Paynton, who has lived in Vietnam on and off for almost a decade, teamed up with French video directors Vincent Baumont and Charly Zach to produce this latest clip. "It’s been a relationship of pure love, frustration, excitement and confusion since coming here as a tourist in 2005," says Paynton. "I love Hanoi and often feel like I belong here, but of course I don’t, and will always feel like an outsider, no matter how long I stay."

"It's an unpredictable place, full of beauty, romance, chaos, quirks and contradictions — a ‘charming beast’ — and I can't help but stay and dance with it, even though it can be extremely challenging at times,” added Paynton on the inspiration behind the video, which includes portraits of Hanoi’s long-term residents, artists and musicians. "I think a lot of people — foreigners and Vietnamese alike — can relate to my experience with this wonderful but sometimes wacky city. That was my intention behind including so many portraits of people who are also ‘dancing’ with the charming beast.”

With scenes shot in the Old Quarter, floating on the Red River, and bird's-eye views of derelict buildings, the musician and the production team show a different side to Hanoi, one they believe those who truly know the city can relate to — the cosmopolitan, gritty, and bustling vibe that isn’t all autumnal flowers, xích lô and áo dài.

Breaking misconceptions is Paynton’s goal: his second video release, 'Find Me in the Mountains,' was shot in Ha Giang as a collaboration with Vietnamese beatboxer TuanSS. The video was released for Mental Health Awareness Day in 2019, in line with his platform Void, a men’s mental health group. This latest release, produced by M.Shermbeatz, is the rapper's third in an ongoing EP entitled “The Charming Beast,” which will consist of four rap songs about Hanoi and will soon be available for streaming on Spotify. For now, the single can be streamed as part of a mixtape on Spotify called "Easy Flow."

Three of Paynton’s four videos can now be viewed on his YouTube channel. The fourth song, 'Em Yeu Anh,' is set for release early next year and will complete the EP, which Paynton has completed as a "passion project" in his spare time away from his day job as a content marketing agency founder.

Watch 'The Charming Beast' below:

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