Obama Uses Light Moment With Vietnam's 'Queen of Hip-Hop' to Espouse Free Speech

AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen
Vietnamese rapper Suboi, right, claps her hands and raps for U.S. President Barack Obama at a town-hall style event for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative at the GEM Center in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Obama is wrapping up a visit to Vietnam before traveling to Japan for the G-7 summit and a visit to Hiroshima. 

President Barack Obama's parting shot before leaving communist Vietnam: let people express themselves.

He may have been referring to rap but the subtle message was aimed at his hosts who have been criticized for muzzling dissent.

During his three-day visit, Obama had spoken out strongly for human rights and free speech. On Wednesday, he brought it up again during a light moment after providing a supporting beat to a female rapper who asked him a question at a town hall meeting with hundreds of young Vietnamese.

"Before I answer your question, why don't you give me a little rap, let's see what you got," Obama -- his sky-blue shirt sleeves rolled up -- told the rapper known as Suboi. "Come on. Do you need like a little beat?" And he went on to show off his oral beat-producing skills on the microphone.

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"Vietnamese or English?" asked Suboi, Vietnam's queen of hip-hop. "In Vietnamese, of course," the president responded. "I won't know what it means, but … just a short version, because I've got to get going. Go ahead."

After a few seconds of Suboi's catchy hip-hop, in which the rest of the crowd joined by providing an applause beat, Obama told her: "That was good. See there? That was pretty good" He requested for the meaning of the verse and got a lesson in materialism from the 26-year-old woman.