K-Pop Star CL Reaches New Heights on Debut Single 'Lifted'

CL in 2016
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

CL poses backstage at the Jeremy Scott Fall 2016 fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at The Arc, Skylight at Moynihan Station on Feb. 15, 2016 in New York City. 

The track aims to lift the singer's presence in the U.S. music market.

America, meet a CL made just for you.

After making a name for herself as a member of girl group 2NE1 and dipping her toes into the English-language music market with a bevy of songs, the 25-year-old rapper set her sights on the U.S. market with the release of “Lifted” on Aug. 18 (Aug. 19 in South Korea). Produced by frequent collaborator Teddy Park and co-written by Park, CL, and Asher Roth, the single changes up the star’s identity from that of the Baddest Female. “Lifted” aims to take fans higher through its refreshingly mellow hip-hop sound and laid-back video.

The new song diverges sharply from CL’s image as one of South Korea’s most prominent female rappers and eschews her typical aggressive style. Referencing drugs and liquor liberally while roaming around New York City, this isn’t the same CL that K-pop fans are used to. Built for listening to on a hazy summer day, “Lifted” takes a step back from CL’s typical raps, aside from a quick bit at the beginning of the song. Instead, “Lifted” favors a tropical sound with a heavy beat that draws on ‘90s east coast hip-hop, drawing liberally on Wu-Tang Clan’s “Method Man.” Method Man appears for a quick cameo in the music video.

“Get yourself a 40 and enjoy the song,” CL suggested through an email ahead of the release, referencing the laid-back lyrics of “Lifted.” 

Filmed in New York City, CL begins the Dave Meyers directed video vaping on a fire escape before dancing her way through streets and parks. Coming to a conclusion high above the NYC skyline, CL takes getting “Lifted’ literally as she sways amongst the clouds. A style icon just as much as Korean music star (she’s tight with Jeremy Scott), CL swaps outfits with each scene and runs the gamut from lingerie to heavy leather, looking fresh and summery despite the brutal NYC humidity.

Following its release, “Lifted” trended immediately on Twitter, where K-pop fans were torn between praising CL and denouncing her for changing her style to appeal to American audiences. Despite the mixed feelings, the song appeared in the top 30 of iTunes’ Hip-Hop/Rap chart within three hours of being released.

CL first came into prominence as a member of the K-pop girl group 2NE1 in 2009. “Lifted” is the first release from any of the remaining three members following the departure of former member Minzy earlier this year. CL released her first solo song, “The Baddest Female,” back in 2013 and signed with Scooter Braun in 2014. Since then, fans have anxiously anticipated the release of her first official step into the U.S market. An EP by the same name was announced late last year, but for the time being, fans will just have to take things higher with “Lifted.”