Rapper Heartbreaka got no support from his family.
“They hated it,” says the 23-year-old hip-hop artist who grew up in Southeast San Diego as Brandon Nambounmy.
“They thought it was something Asians just did not do…. They just wanted me to go to school.”
But Nambounmy stuck with it, inspired by Asian rappers such as the Bay Area’s Yung J and Gee-Q from San Diego. He’s self-released three Heartbreaka albums. Last week he recorded tracks with local rapper Rob Stone (the subject of a recent Reader cover story) for his fourth album, due out in October.
Nambounmy’s music has evolved from straight rap to a mix of pop, R&B, and hip-hop. His lyrics bounce from love songs to stories of gritty street life.
“You won’t hear me rap about gold chains and Ferraris. No made-up bullshit. I rap about things I’ve been through.”
While his music doesn’t glorify gangsta life, “Many of my uncles were in gangs. One just got out [of prison] after 11 years. There’s been Laotian gangs in San Diego for, like, 35 years.”