Some troubles may seem insurmountable, but if you never try to overcome them, then you’ll definitely fail. Kid Trunks is trying. And he wants you to try, too. The Vietnamese-American rapper’s new album, Moon, is his attempt at finding catharsis, and he hopes the sense of relief can extend to his listeners. “I went through a lot as a kid,” the 20-year-old artist says, “so I understand anxiety and depression. I want to help cure other people.”
Drawing from genres he grew up listening to, Moon cycles through rap, R&B, and rock. His pursuit of happiness, love, and progress are themes prevalent throughout the introspective project. Trunks, whose real name is Minh Nguyen, also acknowledges personal shortcomings, such as his tendency to make the same mistakes repeatedly.
Trunks’s family moved to America when he was two years old. There, he and his two siblings were largely raised by their mother. “They were seeking the American dream,” he shrugs. “They sat through the Vietnam war and as a result of it a lot of people there were really poor.”
But as a single immigrant parent in the US, even a middle-class lifestyle proved elusive, and he spent the majority of his childhood in the low-income neighborhoods of Broward County, Florida. Despite the area’s troubles, Broward became home to a new crop of “Soundcloud rappers” that would make a global impact.
Kids Trunks 两岁时全家搬到美国，他和两个兄弟姐妹主要由母亲抚养长大。“他们在追求美国梦。”他耸耸肩，“他们经历了越战和战后的贫穷时期。”但作为一个美国移民单亲家长，即使是中产阶级的生活也难以为继。他大部分的童年都是在佛罗里达州布劳沃德（Broward County）的低收入社区度过，尽管该地区麻烦重重，但许多拥有国际声誉、在 Soundcloud 上发迹的新兴说唱歌手都是来自这里。
“Middle school was really rough,” Trunks says. “I got bullied every other day because I was the only Oriental kid in school. I was also the smallest kid. I’d get robbed for my lunch money or jumped for no reason.” Things changed for him in high school when he met the then still unknown XXXTentacion, who would ultimately go on to find platinum success before his murder in 2018. Trunks’ best friend at the time was X’s girlfriend, so they were always around each other and eventually became close. Once X started dropping him off at school, the other kids left him alone. “Everyone would see him and be like, we know who he is, we’re not gonna fuck with him.”
“我的中学真的过得很苦。”Kids Trunks 说。“每隔一两天我就会被霸凌，因为我是学校里唯一的亚洲小孩。我也是长得最小的，我常常因为午餐钱被抢、或无缘无故就被欺负。”但事情在他高中时迎来转机，他遇见了当时还不知名的 XXXTentacion，这位说唱歌手在 2018 年被谋杀前曾获得销量百万的举世成功。Kids Trunks 当时最好的朋友是 XXXTentacion 的女朋友，所以他们总是在一起，后来就走得很近。大家发现 XXXTentacion 开始送他去学校之后就不再找他麻烦了，“所有人看到他的想法都是，我们知道他是谁，没有人想惹他。”
Trunks soon became a part of the Members Only collective, led by X and Ski Mask The Slump God. At first, he dealt with promotion and drew up assignments for the other members. It was not easy: “If I didn’t get it right, I’d get beat up,” he says. “Shit was real. It was crazy. But I’m grateful to be in the crew.” X encouraged him to take rap seriously and Trunks took it to heart.
Kids Trunks 很快成为了由 XXXTentacion 和 Ski Mask The Slump God 创立的说唱团体 Members Only 的一员。起初他负责推广以及为其他成员拟定任务的工作，这并不容易。“如果我做得不好，下场会是挨揍。”他说，“这他妈是认真的，太疯狂了。但我非常感激能加入他们。” XXXTentacion 鼓励他更认真对待说唱， Kids Trunks 也将他的建议放在心上。
Before Moon, Trunks was mostly known for rap-centric, aggressive sounds. He’d been recording steadily for about a year before stepping into the spotlight in 2018 with the videos for “IDK” and “Love Never Blossoms” on WorldStarHipHop. Like the majority of music on the platform, those songs and videos were mainly about flexing his strength and style. But now, rather than looking outward towards his haters, he’s looking inward to himself and loved ones. “I already proved myself, now I just let my music do the speaking.”
For all of Trunks’ positive goals, he doesn’t shy away from the pitfalls along his path. On lead single “Getaway,” which is guided by a mournful glass melody and languid percussion, he speaks directly to his internal demons: “Get away, get away, in my mind / I like to get away, far away / End all my thoughts I want to throw away, throw away.”
The lyrics—delivered with a weary groan—reveal a true pain, and just recently, on the cusp of releasing the album, Trunks attempted to take his own life. “I wasn’t in a good place mentally and was going through a lot of bullshit; and I was taking a lot of drugs,” he explains. “I let the drugs get the best of me and they took me to the worst place I’ve ever been mentally. I just felt like I wasn’t good enough for the world or myself. I just felt like not being on the planet anymore.” Although he says he won’t seek professional help, he’s been relying on those close to him. “It’s mind over matter and I remind myself of that every day.”
虽然 Kid Trunks 的目标现在偏于积极的，他的歌词从不避开一路上遭遇的障碍。在主打单曲《Getaway》中，他用悲伤清脆的旋律和慵懒的打击乐来引导自己，直接对内心的恶魔说：“走开，走开，在我的脑海里走开（Get away, get away, in my mind）/我想要逃离，远远逃离（I like to get away, far away）/，结束我所有的思绪，我想扔掉，扔掉。（End all my thoughts I want to throw away, throw away.）”
这些歌词——带着疲倦的呻吟唱出来——展现出真真切切的痛苦。就在最近，在发行专辑的风口浪尖上，Kid Trunks 试图结束自己的生命。他解释说：“我的精神状况并不好，经历了很多狗屁事情，而且还嗑了很多药。” 他说，“我让毒品战胜了我，把我带到了精神上最糟糕的地方。我只是觉得我对这个世界和我自己都不够好，觉得我不在这个星球上了。”虽然他说他不会寻求专业的帮助，但他一直依赖身边的人。“是思想战胜了物质，我每天都在这么提醒自己。”
Although seeking professional help is the recommended route for those with suicidal tendencies and clinical psychological problems, music can be a much-needed salve, especially for people with financial or regional limitations that keep proper care out of reach. Having feelings validated in a song can be comforting, whether it’s just a listener having a bad day or someone working with a doctor on more serious issues. “I put so much love and pain and effort into this,” Kid says. “Anyone who’s feeling depressed or down, I hope they can just listen to this with an open mind, find help, and start healing.”
Contributor: Mike Steyels
Chinese Translation: Yang Yixuan
Images Courtesy of Kid Trunks