Maybe South Korea isn’t the first place you think of when you consider emerging rap markets. Maybe you think of Atlanta with its lively trap history, or maybe you think of London’s grime scene, or maybe you even think of the French rap breathing life into the outer suburbs of Paris. Maybe South Korea doesn’t even cross your mind.
But, with the success of Korean rapper, Keith Ape’s International jam, “It G Ma”, and CL’s big push in The West, the new dawn of modern rap may be facing toward South Korea and its affinity for trap-style offerings.
CL, formerly (and maybe currently) of 2NE1 has quickly risen as the most recognizable female face in Korean rap. CL got her start as the lead member of Korean girl group 2NE1, a band who also incorporated elements off light rap alongside very Western pop sensibilities.
CL's latest solo offering, “Hello Bitches”, is the same type of stuttering, self-assured, banger she launched her solo career with in 2013.
In the two years since “The Baddest Female” premiered, a few things about CL have become very clear. First is that she gets Western culture. The evolution in aesthetics from 2013 to now makes that obvious. CL’s video for “Hello Bitches” feels very zeitgesty. The pastel hair, the wolf braids, and sport-goth vibes means that someone at camp CL understands the basic mood and soft hip hop aesthetics at the moment.
Secondly, CL is a unique entity. By Korean standards her look is still pretty glossy and overly groomed but, by Western standards, she brings more culture than other rappers we would call her contemporaries (yeah we're looking at you, Iggz).
CL interweaves English language verses with her native Korean for a pretty dynamic listening experience. Even if you can’t understand what she is saying, the self-assured way with which she says things is enough to convince you that she really is the baddest female.
Similar to the Swedes, South Korea seems to have an affinity for pop music. As hip hop and rap drifts further and further into the mainstream, the Korean entertainment industry have conceived of more dynamic ways to meld rap and pop music together.
Now, as Korea's biggest names in rap begin to really "make it" in the west, we're sure to see more acts like CL and Keith Ape take on the genre with full force--certainly giving homegrown American rappers a run for their money.