It takes skills to toe the line between insightful and entertaining in food rap. As Ly Lan Dill writes in diaCRITICS, Alexei Sabzi successfully captures the “North American phở culture” with his langurous flow in the minorly viral ode to rice-noodle soup, “Wassup Pham.”
The Iranian-American DJ and music producer (a.k.a. Saba, a.k.a. Alexei, a.k.a. Sabazi) locked down nearly double the Kickstarter funding he sought out for the project. With Vietnamese subtitles, Sabzi rhymes about the nuances of phở eating with friends. Dill says he’s able to “embody[ the fluidity of cultures in the North American urban landscape” and exemplify the notion that “it’s not where we’re born but what we do that defines us.”
The video doubles as a catalog of sorts for Sabzi’s brand, Townfolk—the Phở 99 project also includes for-sale items that you see in the clip, including “two runs of premium quality offset prints with a spot-gloss varnish on silk cover paper for two different phở poster designs, illustrated 8-button set, illustrated sticker sheet, and custom chopsticks.”
Kickstarter donors may have been enticed by the bonus button set featuring the Vietnamese Liberace, Tuấn Anh, promised to those who pledged more than $25.