Here’s one that you might have missed but you really shouldn’t. Triad God (aka Vinh Ngan) is a Vietnamese-Chinese artist from South East London adding to the fast expanding intercultural exchange exploded from the cross roads of ephemeral electronica meets hip hop.
It’s appropriate then that he’s from the suburb of New Cross because Triad God comes in tow with a new breed of global rapper that includes part Native American Angel Haze, gender bending Jewish African-American Mykki Blanco and even controversial Australian Iggy Azalea. But where all these artists perform in English, Ngan’s wonky Cantonese drawl ebbs over woozy post-dubstep beats for the November 13 reissue of his mixtape-cum-album NXB, out on Hippos in Tanks.
Word is that hypnagogic conceptualist James Ferraro had something to do with his signing to the US label and you can certainly hear the similarities in producer Palmistry’s preoccupation with the transcendental possibilities of virtual worlds. What concerns Triad God is harder to define, not least in considering the language barrier for any shamefully monolingual English speaker, but to understand his words almost seems to defy the point. In typically cryptic manner the album title NXB stands for ‘New Cross Boy’, in the same way that an earlier EP Aym G 4 Life –also produced by Palmistry –is a corrupted take on ‘My Boys For Life’. It’s not far off then that Ngan gives very little away as hazy lyrics echo through the chintzy dream state of ‘PO’ and boozed flounce of ‘Remand’. It’s ‘Sun Hing J’ that draws special attention to the challenge of incorporating the meaningful intonation of Cantonese into a musical composition, as Ngan near moans his indecipherable narrative to a lumbering beat and dazed atmospherics.
As Ngan’s voice overlays what sounds like an inflected repetition of “rap star” in ‘Bland Day Tumm My Tun Joe Ter Ruler’ the album closes on said stand-out whose pitched-up samples and pumping vocal production techniques all point to an underground RnB hit. Sung in English for the first and last time, it’s a trip through the weird world of shifting genres and fluid mind states that inform the entirely smooth realisation of the music by Triad God and those like him.
As their folklore goes, both Ngan and Palmistry share a love of Hong Kong, where they’ve never been to. It’s a joy and curiosity akin to the fascination with and Utopian ideal of a Dubai that ‘post-internet’ artists like Ferraro and Fatima Al Qadiri share. If the unreality of casino lights and infinity mirrors could be condensed to a specific sound then NXB is it. And if this is what Triad God can offer today, imagine what he’ll do tomorrow.