NoTownFamilyz’s ‘Ua Tsis Tau Mixtape’ is fresh outta Fresno
Hmong mixtape from NoTown reps the Westside
NoTownFamilyz, a record label and collective of Hmong and Asian American Westcoast Hip Hop artists just released the Ua Tsis Tau Mixtape, and it’s fresh outta Fresno, California.
For those uninitiated, the Hmong are indigenous Asians originating from Southeast Asia, mainly from the Golden Triangle area of Southwest China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. The stateless people are spread out across all these countries and have a population of four to five million.
Many Hmong refugees resettled in the United States after the Vietnam War, and have built large communities in California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin - so much in fact that there are now more ethnic Hmong people living in the US than in Thailand. Being minority immigrants, living in the hood, and having to struggle and hustle, it’s easy to see how Hip Hop became an outlet for groups like the NoTownFamilyz.
Ua Tsis Tau means ‘Can’t do it,’ which is also the title of the 3rd track. For 33 minutes, Toxic T featuring other NTF rappers A.N.D., Skinnyfattz, Mocha, Yagya, and singer Mandy Moua speak their mother tongue with a smattering of English, bringing listeners into their Hmong Hip Hop world. Here is a breakdown of the songs:
1. ‘June 19, 1996’ kicks off the mixtape, as well as the life of Toxic T. It is a classic Old School Boom Bap track, with a rhyme flow that sounds very similar to Chinese, and talks about his life journey.
2. Up next is a Jazzy R&B beat, with Amanda Moua and Toxic T singing ‘Kab Siab Lug,’ which means peaceful. This is definitely the most chill song in the mixtape and appropriately talks about peace, family, and prosperity.
3. The trap beat hits hard on ‘Ua Tsis Tau’, as Toxic T raps in half Hmong, half English about the people who’ve been telling him ‘Ua Tsis Tau’ all his life - doubting and looking down on him, saying he will never amount to anything or become successful. He responds with ’With 10 toes down Imma give what it takes. No matter how hard, I’ll never break’ - proving himself with his rhyme skills while praying for endurance to face life head-on.
4. ‘Lwj Siab’ means stress and struggle, and it’s a more intense and emotional song, speaking about the hardship and heartache people go through in life. The haunting track sits on a bed of minor piano chords and heavy kicks.
5. The most vibrant vibe on the mixtape comes from ‘Mi Nyuam Hmoob Miskas’, with its catchy chorus that gives the feeling of the circus or a theme park. The title actually means ‘Hmong American Kids’ and talks about how Toxic T and his homies A.N.D and Yagya grew up as Hmong American kids in the US.
6. The bassline on ‘Khawv Khoob’ will definitely make you wanna get low, and the drums are clean, crisp, and hit hard. Putting on some classic Hip Hop vocal samples, scratching, and sound effects adds up to some mad classic flavor on this one. The title means magic, and it’s another song where Toxic T showcases his Hmong Rap skills.
7. ‘Hate On A Thug’ is a fully English song with a very clear message. Toxic T shares his story of being a young thug hustling to get by and addresses the misconception and hatred people hold towards thug life.
8. Track 8 talks about what happens ‘If A B*tch Leave’ and features A.N.D. This one is straight-up on the homeboy tip, talking about their attitudes toward dating and relationships on a funky beat.
9. ‘Honest’ has SkinnyFattz on the first verse, Toxic T on the second verse, and then Mocha and A.N.D. wraps it up. It’s a straight boasting Rap, being cocky, and directly laying the swag out over a simple beat.
10. On ‘Puppet’ we get the straight West coast groove, with some pretty guitar and piano chords, and a more melodic hook. This one is for the cholos.
11. Finally, Toxic T wraps up the mixtape with ‘Txoj Kev Kuv Thau’, a song he wrote 10 years ago and recorded when he was still in high school, talking about ‘The Path That I Take’ and his hopes and dreams for the future. Toxic T singing on the hook shows his more emotional side, and matches the rhythmic acoustic guitar, ending things on a hopeful and positive vibe. Skinnyfattz makes an appearance again, rapping softly on the last verse and creating a nice contrast to Toxic’s intensity. The guitar solo on the outro makes for a really nice ending to the mixtape.
This Ua Tsis Tau Mixtape really creates an effective story of Toxic T’s life journey, from his birth to the present. It also tells the story of his Hmong Hip Hop family in Fresno, and is definitely worth listening to, especially for fans of the Boom Bap.
We hope to hear more from the NoTownFamilyz in the future, with more dope Hmong songs to help us understand their culture and story as Asian Americans from the Westside.
Listen to the Complete ‘Ua Tsis Tau Mixtape’ by NFT Toxic J below.