Korean pop music has been experiencing something of a moment of late. While the “Hallyu Wave” has been steadily rising for a few years now, the unexpected viral video hit “Gangnam Style” drew an international spotlight to some of the industry’s more interesting and adaptive stars.

Among them has been CL – leader of girl group 2NE1 and recent solo addition to the long line of K-pop acts attempting to conquer the American market.

The ultimate downfall of any boy or girl group is that there is always one member who stands out from the rest – Robbie Williams in Take That, Beyoncé in Destiny’s Child, Justin Timberlake in N*SYNC, Zayn in One Direction. They capitalise on heightened media attention and/ or superior talent, flying the coop to build their own brand.

While 2NE1 has the ruthlessly efficient structure of any K-pop band, with each member having a specific and unique talent, it’s hard to deny CL’s individual magnetism. She’s multi-lingual, articulate, funny, well connected and obviously ambitious. She’s attracted attention from the famous and the notorious, appearing on tracks for Skrillex and Diplo with label-mate G-Dragon, sitting front row at Seoul Fashion Week and on American magazine covers with “best friend”, designer Jeremy Scott.

As a girl group, 2NE1 attracted attention for their bold and eclectic styling, but, having given their leader a little more freedom to actually contribute to the creative process, their last album Crush nailed it with CL’s lyrical stylings.

“When I was younger I went to an international school and felt that there was bias about Asian females. I wish that women in Asia would be able to have a bigger voice,” she said in 2013. “Although it might not look pretty to some, I want to break that typical Asian female stereotype.”

In the lead up to her much-hyped American debut, CL released teaser track Hello Bitches, debuted through Noisey and featuring a (really, really hot) dance number with choreographer of the minute Parris Goebel.

CL-hello-bitches

The lyrical content remains bitingly on-brand, with a bilingual bent providing an often-overlooked reminder to the West that they are not the only producers of pop cultural content.

The blistering opening to the second verse –  “Got hella dough/ Hello Kitty gettin’ hella old/ Want me to love them long time/ And I tell em NOPE” – leaves you with the distinct impression she’s dealt with a lot of bullshit during her attempts to break into a broader market.

The same verse ends on a similar note – “Got these Asian girls dancing on the couches/ yeah they know me/ and they singing every word like they was at the karaoke” provides a stark reminder that a single launch isn’t a career launch. CL is already well-established within the Asian market, she’s already a darling of a homegrown scene. An American single won’t make her. This is for fun.

Providing all her call-outs in English while leaving the chorus in Korean gives a clear message – she’s not here for your crap.

Her recent performance at this year’s MAMAs with a surprise appearance from 2NE1 is also worth a look.