President Obama arrived in Japan Wednesday for a summit of the Group of Seven nations, after concluding his trip to Vietnam with a rap-style performance during a town-hall meeting.
Mr. Obama will hold a meeting late Wednesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Later in the week, he will travel to Hiroshima, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site of the nuclear bomb attack in World War II.
Earlier Wednesday, the president concluded his first visit to Vietnam with a town-hall meeting with young Vietnamese leaders in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, where he provided an accompanying beat on his hand-held microphone while a Vietnamese rapper performed a song.
“Why don’t you give me a little rap, let’s see what you got,” Mr. Obama told the rapper known as Suboi, the Vietnamese queen of hip-hop. “Come on. Do you need like a little beat?”
Then he showed off his beat-producing skills on the microphone.
After performing for a short time in Vietnamese, the rapper told the president that she had been singing about “some people having a lot of money, having big houses. But actually, are they really happy?” She said her song was also about stereotypes.
Mr. Obama replied, “Well that’s true in the United States too … there’s always been, sort of, sexism and gender stereotypes in the music industry, like every other part of life.”
He said rap music, which started as an expression of poor African-Americans, is now popular around the world. And he used the occasion to promote freedoms in Vietnam
“And imagine if at the time that rap was starting off that the government had said ‘no because some of the things you say are offensive or some of the lyrics are rude or you’re cursing too much,’” Mr. Obama said.