Michael Nhat Biography
Antithetic to the way audiences are accustomed to receiving songwriting and hip-hop music, Asian-American Hipster-Art Rapper Michael Nhat has been creating a stir in the Los Angeles area with live performances, local and nationwide press, several music videos, experimental short films, and four self-produced full-length albums. Born in Vietnam, and raised in Iowa, Nhat started free-styling and rapping at age 14 and immersed himself in the black community until age 20.
Gang violence, drugs, the prosecution of three childhood friends and the birth of his daughter turned him away from this life-style. In 2001, Michael moved to Burbank, California and embarked on a new start. “This is when I started using the moniker Michael Nhat (nawt), defining myself and distancing myself from my past. However, the problem with doing this is everyone meeting me in the present thinks I’m just some nerdy hipster who recently jumped on the rap bandwagon, which isn’t the case at all. I do not want to advertise my past, which is the one thing that gives me credibility, because I am ashamed of it,” says Nhat.
In 2004, Val Jerk Records released “Very Special People”, a compilation featuring Busdriver, 2mex, Awol-one, and Michael’s first single. After blundering attempts to get respect and break into LA’s hip-hop scene, he dissevered further aim. “I actually didn’t really listen to rap music that didn’t precede 1996/97. With age I progressed beyond its traditional battling, fashion, and it’s ubiquitous macho man attitude. Yet since I was a rap musician, I believed this was the scene I should be embracing, hence my endeavor to try, but the hip-hop locale did not want anything to do with me and my black rimmed glasses”.
In 2008, Michael started volunteering at downtown LA’s all- age venue The Smell. “I became involved in a community I relished, with music that I actually listened to and people I felt comfortable with. I didn’t have to fear being bullied because of my skinny pants or being called a faggot. It was a lot more open-minded and refreshing”. After a short few months at The Smell, news about the Asian-American rapper spread and Nhat started getting booked weekly.
From the prestigious Vermont House to Pehrspace, every foremost LA venue in the underground DIY backdrop booked him. Before the year was over, a humble independent label How to be a Microwave negotiated his first official record on twelve inch wax. In October 2009, those arrangements actualized commencing nationwide media attention and a bounded cult following. “Catchy lo-fi looping keyboards, Nhat’s minimal beats propel his brutal, barking cadence towards something that is alternately poppy” – LA Record.
In September 2010, Nhat self-released his sophomore effort “Swimming to Cambodia”. A severe variance from his self-titled first record, it did not draw much publicity. “With moments sounding like Portishead, crossed with El-P shaken in a glass full of Dada” – Performer Magazine. Three months later December 2010 he released his third album “Just Plain Dying”, an upbeat, non-sampling keyboard-made cassette tape with no collaborations, on East Coast label I Had an Accident Records.. “I love my 2nd album, but I think it failed sales and media-wise. To recover from its damage, I made the 3rd album a return to form of the first record and give something people could dance to again”. This third delivery “Just Plain Dying” with zero promotional back-up went completely unnoticed. However, in early 2011 Deli Magazine printed an issue ranking Michael Nhat at number 30 in LA’s Emerging Artists.
Michael Nhat’s Timeline to date
March 2011: Michael leaves Los Angeles for Philadelphia, PA. He returns in less than a year in November. He immediately begins performing at shows on a monthly basis.
Also in May 2012: a destitute Michael Nhat and his confidante LinaCarol began documenting their homelessness and unemployment with an HD Camcorder donated to him by Andrew Felix. They release a weekly episode edited and posted on Youtube dubbed “All Birds Born Blind Commit Suicide“.
12/12/12: Nhat, released “The Kitchen EP”, a Synthetic-Pop recording, online. It is a non hip-hop orientated move showcasing his emotive singing skills.
2/2/13: Nhat has convened a supergroup called The Best People In The World, comprised of artists who practice many different styles of underground music, poetry and art but who are unified by the influence of Wu Tang and The Chronic. More info can be found here.
4/30/13: “Those Born of a Ghost” is released via Annie Hall Records on cassette tape.
He is currently seeking representation to secure his new material to recording labels.