Back in April of 2013, Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun stopped in South Korea to see Psy, the viral K-Pop artist he represents in North America. He caught onto the opening act 2NE1, one of Korea’s most popular girl groups. After the gig, he ended up drinking soju and trading romance advice with CL (real name Lee Chae-rin), 2NE1’s incredibly badass rapper-singer.
A short while after, says CL, Braun “emailed me and was like, ‘Let’s do this'”–in other words, make her a mainstream superstar in the States, too. “It was so out of the blue,” she explained over the phone from Seoul, speaking without a hint of a foreign accent. “We didn’t really talk about work. We would argue about love, life, relationships.”
Since that moment, the 24-year-old rap goddess has split her time between Seoul and L.A., where she recently recorded her so far untitled and unschedule 2016 American debut. She has also released some banger singles like “Doctor Pepper” (with Diplo and Riff Raff) and “Hello Bitches.” The track falls somewhere between M.I.A.’s female anthem “Bad Girls” and that Rihanna album we’ve been waiting on forever (CL just calls it “raw”).
In the video for “Hello Bitches,” she rocks violet hair and sexy leather, surrounded by a group of eccentric dancers with names like Vanilla Ice and Binki Boo, who make the room bounce with their stomps and throw animated liquor at the camera.
The video is pretty crazy, but CL stays in control and mesmerizing through it all. If you need an idea of just how cultish her following is in the United States, you’d only need to go on YouTube and search for the reason videos of the “Hello Bitches” music video. There’s lots of “Slay, queen!” going on, not to mention celebratory Jell-O shots are common.
With the range of characters she adopts (Hot Topic chola to Harajuku princess), CL is like Nick Minaj in a sense, if Nicki was more interested in taking over social media rather than fellow rappers. CL says, “I always wanted to do my solo album in English, because I grew up listening to a lot of pop artists and English-based songs, but you can’t really do that in Korea, so…” So what she’s saying is, she’s ready to take on America.
While we wait excitedly for her debut in the States, check out her electric video for “Hello Bitches” down below.