Nguyen Thang – My Story

With lame-out rap, noon-napping jazz and Chinese-inflected ballad, Nguyen Thang’s My Story should be flopped, but it turns out to be ridiculously addictive. He has an ear for catchy beats and a taste for pop hooks. Most important of all, he knows when to let others do the telling even though the story is his.

The jump-off “Apologize,” ironically featured Thaifoon (should have been the other way around since Nguyen Thang only sings the hook), is about a mundane relationship drama being told through Thaifoon’s robotic flow and elementary rhymes, but the groovy beat and Nguyen Thang’s supporting vocals bring life to the tune. Like his peers, Nguyen Thang is flirting with hip-hop and R&B. Thankfully he doesn’t try to rap. Not that the rap cats on “If Only You Knew” are any good, but they sound so damn aggressive like some gangster shit. It turns out that they were mad at some girl who broke their heart. What kind of a rapper that bitch about that type of shit? As moronic as it sound, the song works. It’s pop music. What do you expect?

Although Nguyen Thang tends to be more westernized, he could move comfortably from English to Vietnamese—something not too many young Vietnamese-American pop stars could accomplish. They either suck at English or Vietnamese, but mostly the latter. His remake of “Xin Cho Mai Yeu,” “Tinh Dau Mai Yeu” (duet with Huy Vu) and “Bien Can” are refreshing despite how many times these two tunes have been covered. The productions play a major role in them, especially when the rap verse in “Xin Mai Cho Em” kicks in and accompanied by the gorgeous saxophone.

Though his flow is too stiff on the smooth-jazz “Autumn Leaves,” at least he’s giving it a try, and the unexpected sax solo on the swing-up break is a nice touch. Overall, My Story is how a pop album should be, except he should have left the fill-in-the-gap chicks with annoying vocals off the album.