This exhibition showcases a recently acquired series of nine photographs by Tuan Andrew Nguyen (b. 1976 in Saigon, Vietnam) titled From Saigon to Saigon. The photographs document the handwritten correspondence from a young Vietnamese rapper based in Ho Chi Minh City to an African American rapper, who adopted the stage moniker 'Saigon' after reading Wallace Terry’s Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War, detailing the discriminatory experiences African Americans endured during the American-Vietnam War. The photographs illuminate the interaction of history, politics, and popular culture in the rapidly shifting landscape of contemporary Vietnamese society.
Transcription of Letters From Saigon to Saigon. This transcription preserves the spelling, grammar, crossed-out words, and highlights of the original text. All formatting in the digital transcription reflects the nature of the handwritten letter.
48119 Phương 01
Thành Phố: Hồ Chí Minh(Sài Gòn)
To: Sai Gon.
Atlantic Record Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas
New York; NY 10104
Day 29-03 2008
Hey man Saigon I’m Wowy was born and growup at the country have a name like u. Your name and you talent maked me write this letter. I’m a Rapper in VN. a Different between you and me is a factor and is all what I’m talking about in this letter (Sorry! Say how are you to another guy not my homies is hard that’s not my style)
You r black ..... and .... I’m yellow. you living at a hiphop country. I’m living at a country have 50% population never know what’s a fucking HipHop.
I’m to Follow u by all new on my collection in website (I don’t know websites is wrong 100% or right 100%?), and I know when you live in the jail you saw that name on your newspaper and use. What u know about that?? U like it? Or u have some think about that and use that name?
I’m very very wanna know; because I’m a Saigon
Today u r famous Rapper; I’m not! in VN no one like real rap music. if rap music talk about love like pop music everybody like it (Rapper like shit) some singer wanna Famous? Ok! buy some music buy some “Fan”. I don’t care about that! I’m still rap because I like it; What’s I think I talk about that; What I saw I sing about that. I have another Friend is a foreigner and he said “If you live in another country like new york you can be famous; rich” Too funny!? That question make me think “is that right??” and that is my question I wanna ask u “is that right??” my music and your music; I know have a distance. but if u be me; a son of Saigon country think about that!
Make money and be famous by rap music? Or listen rap music; and wanna make a song; money and famous is a award of rap music? You r famous, Rich! (I don’t Know?) But when I watch your video clip I think you have both. A question make me very wonder. “Rap music is your tool to make money or Rap music is your style? Interest?
I have a idea shine in my mind “What about Saigon visit Saigon?” I wanna see that! I can see Saigon have a map of Saigon. Saigon go to Hood of Saigon; Saigon sing at Saigon. (
I can see at my mind “A black People) I can see fancy by my imagination “ A black People wear a mit. mit. I’m sure 100% everybody in the street will be look at you. not by your fame. By your crazy” (you can’t wear new era when you drive motobike to get some fresh air. and you can’t wear your ring and bling when you go to the street (?) find some chick. Do You Know Why? “Vietnamese Law” you know what I mean man. It’s very close image of a black people have show at Saigon. Trust me no one sing follow you or do some thing like Put your hand up. they just “look” and “listen”. May be they will be think “you’r bad singer”. HaHa you know why. That’s very simple. They don’t Know What are you talking about. But. If your you are dancer, dance for a sing pop-singer in my country
and you have good dance. Everybody will be look at you because you have a black skin You are famous some where. I don’t know. But in Viet
MNam you just a people. You how know what I mean. I’m not apartheid or ironical about your skin color. I’m chink (I hate KKK). I just wanna talk to you “VietNam music or Saigon music is a scope everybody call that’s root and have ferment (I hope someday you come to VN and visit Saigon).
I don’t know anything else to talk to you; and I don’t know how to write a letter letter clearly espeacially like a famous person like you so I just want to tell you like this yesterday some mother Fucker polices come to my house and thy stole 2 buld electriaties.
I just write some bullshit words to make it full the letter So end of here get more and more money I wish you like this When you visit VN buy for me hoodie.
Transcription by Asia Society Museum, 2019