The tale of Vietnamese-American rapper Kid Trunks (AKA Minh Nguyen) and his rise from school outcast to XXXTentacion protégé and Travis Barker collaborator is an unlikely one. But this Broward County underdog story nearly ended tragically last month before it had a chance to take off.
Kid Trunks has been making a name for himself in the South Florida rap scene ever since the late XXXTentacion (AKA Jahseh Onfroy) brought him into the Members Only fold when he was 15. Together the music collective released a handful of albums, including 2019's Members Only Vol. 4, which debuted at number 18 on the Billboard 200.
For Nguyen, XXXTentacion wasn't only a source of creative encouragement — Onfroy was also a friend when he needed one the most.
The fact that he was short in stature and one of only a few Asian kids at school opened Nguyen up to constant bullying. Looking back, he says he's somewhat glad he went through it — the experience made him more considerate of people's feelings. But Nguyen, who has the word "hate" tattooed on his face as a reminder of the bullying, is equally candid about his battles with anxiety and depression. Those struggles only got worse after XXXTentacion's murder in 2018.
On his melancholy debut album, Moon, released June 26 through Empire, Nguyen reaches out to listeners experiencing the same lows, in an attempt to help them.
"I hope this project can aid or cure any depression or negative energy in your life," Nguyen says in the album's intro.
The track also references Nguyen's own suicidal thoughts, though no indication that he would ever act on them.
But only a few weeks shy of his 20th birthday and the release of his album, Nguyen says, he attempted to kill himself.
"I've been dealing with depression and anxiety my whole life," Nguyen tells New Times by phone. "I didn't care at first. I had less responsibilities. I'd just go to a party and get fucked up, and everything was cool. But as I got older, it got a lot worse because I got hit with a lot of life things and had more responsibilities. But I really didn't have suicidal tendencies ever. That was the first time and last time I ever do anything like that."
For Nguyen, the experience was a wake-up call, and he's hoping to come out a stronger person because of it. At the moment, he's focusing on the positive response Moon and its experimental sounds — which feature more singing than rapping — are receiving.
The album includes "Do You Know What Is Right?" a piano-driven duet with Noah Cyrus inspired by the death of XXXTentacion. And two tracks feature Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, "Me Myself & I" and "ID."
"After [XXXTentacion] passed away, a lot of people reached out to me to give their condolences. And Travis was one of those people," Nguyen says, who adds that "ID" is his favorite track on the album. "He liked my music, and I asked him if he wanted to [work together]. A couple months later, I flew out to L.A., and we hit two bangers out... For him to acknowledge who I am, I'm more than grateful."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
With touring currently at a standstill, Nguyen, whose Kid Trunks moniker is a nod to Dragon Ball Z, is focusing his energy on music videos. He recently released a video for "Backseat" and posted a teaser for "ID" on Instagram.
While he's working in the short-term, he admits his aspirations go far beyond the music industry.
"Music is just a stepping stone to get to where I want to be in life," Nguyen says. "I know I'm not going to be a rapper forever. By the time I turn 29 or 30, hopefully, I'll be a super millionaire. I want to invest in different things like stock and properties. Hopefully, my family and grandkids will be good. I just want my legacy and my last name to shine and live forever."
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), text 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor right away, or go to speakingofsuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.