Already killing it in Asia, will the leader of K-Pop group 2NE1 be the first female Asian singer/rapper to make it big in the west?
Taken from the autumn/winter 2015 issue of Dazed:
Of all the places you’d expect to encounter Asia’s ruling pop superstar, this isn’t one. We’re in a sketchy, 60s-era hotel just off a freeway in Queens, NYC, that markets itself as “exotic” – which it is, if by exotic you mean a mermaid fountain in the lobby and fabulously cheesy themed rooms with names like ‘Arabian Nights’, ‘Cupid’ and ‘Safari’. Outside, it’s a sweltering day in August. Inside, the Seoul-born idol is cavorting around rooms called ‘Fantasia’ (floral) and ‘New York Skyline’ (neon horizon). Then again, as a rapper, singer, songwriter, fashion plate and leader of Korean girl-group juggernaut 2NE1, CL is clearly a woman who thrives on contradiction.
Her ambition? To make music history by becoming the first Asian female artist to launch a viable career in the west. As part of a group that’s long distinguished itself as more subversive than many in the K-pop milieu, CL is the most independent-minded member. Dubbing herself “The Baddest Female” on her solo debut in 2013, in the past year she’s rapped about strip clubs and lesbian crushes on Skrillex’s “Dirty Vibe”, and held her own with Diplo, Riff Raff and OG Maco on the trapped-out “Doctor Pepper” – and now she begins a new chapter with her first English-language EP, the remarkably varied Lifted. What it all adds up to is that the performer born Lee Chae-rin is far from your average K-pop star.
“Growing up I listened to a lot of Queen and Lauryn Hill, because of my dad. Those are songs that have messages. That’s kind of rare these days” – CL