Lee Chae-rin (CL/Chaelin Lee) has arrived, Western ladies and gentlemen, and her pursuit is intentional: She is ready to dominate on a larger scale.
For almost two years, I have created and participated in commentary about the path that CL is consciously traveling to expand beyond South Korean music. Prominent fashion houses know her on a first-name/fashion-show-front-row basis. Dominant producers and composer in music want to work with her. From the (perceived?) controversy of signing with Scooter Bruan, the real scandal of “MTBD,” and delayed full album release; to G-Dragon placing her as the closer in a verbal passing of the baton on her actual solo U.S. debut and a North American tour that wrapped earlier this week, the world is paying attention to her every move.
MACG Magazine and MACG Productions staff experienced the 2NE1 front woman’s first solo North American tour on Sunday, November 6th at the Bomb Factory, hosted by SIVA Group. I was moved to tears while live tweeting during the show — no sense in suppressing my enthusiasm about seeing The Baddest Female, my female ultimate K-pop bias, perform live.
Dig my hole. I can fall in it now. pic.twitter.com/FjP5ZHf3Lz
— Multifacetedacg (@multifacetedacg) November 7, 2016
Glass case of emotion aside, the multi-talented artist encouraged fans to dance and sing along to many hits before the show began. An 11-song playlist of 2NE1 songs and her solo releases boomed through the speakers and lit up the venue as videos played from a massive onstage screen. CL’s love for, and acknowledgment of, what the group has provided her, was even more evident as a montage of personal and professional moments throughout her life signaled the start of the show. Then, dressed in a black-and-denim outfit, she ascended from beneath the stage to the live instrumentation of “Fire,” her group’s debut song. Over 15 songs in, CL performed multiple 2NE1 songs with her full vocal capacity re-arranged for backing tracks. She segued between choreography with culturally diverse dancers and independent moves. She played with the crowd in English and delivered on aegyo. CL proved that, although appreciative of her group, she is more than capable of standing on her own two feet.
Truly, there is a reason why she has been called the Beyonce of Korea on more than one occasion.
Cultural insensitivity conversations? The full video release of “Hello Bitches” has not happened. (aside from those of us who watched it during her tour. Ah yes, and that YouTube upload.) Dodgint controversy? Her full Stateside album was shelved after the reactions to her collaboration with Iggy Azalea. Certainly, there will continue be conversations about cultural relevancy, her impact, the longevity of 2NE1 and much more as she moves forward — many questions I ask and discuss occasionally on social media — but what I do not question is the intention behind her moves. Her knowledge of the efforts and struggles of Korean acts who came before her have evidently impacted her process.
“I’m not a thing. I’m not a doll. If [internet kids are] a fan of me, somehow, I’m happy,” she shares with a little laughter in her CNN Style feature. “Or, even if they hate me, I love that I can do that to them. It takes so much more energy and effort to hate…so, I appreciate the hate.” Lofty opinions, frequent criticism and comparisons can influence unwanted stress. CL, however, is taking it all in stride.
Ashley Griffin is a diverse writer, blogger and YouTube Personality. A nomad at heart, Ms. Griffin currently resides in Houston, Texas. Find “Multifacetedacg” on YouTube and shoot her a message on Twitter.