Her fans are fanatical. CL is the snazzy leader of K-pop’s famous girl group 2NE1 (under YG Entertainment, home to PSY, BIGBANG, Se7en and more). But why wouldn’t anyone be crazy about her? The 22-year-old exudes freedom, power and confidence. She stands out among many adorable female K-pop artists.
On May 28, CL released her hugely-anticipated solo project, “The Baddest Female” (which peaked at No. 4 on the K-pop Hot 100), and proved her ability to do her thing on her own. In the midst of her busy schedule, CL sat down exclusively with Billboard at YG’s equally-snazzy studio in Hapjeong-dong in Seoul, to talk about her solo career, the importance of women empowerment and what a girl like CL looks for in a man.
“I want to change the [general] image that people have of Asian women. I want to express my ideas through my music and on stage because I’m a musician,” she says when asked about the concept for her premiere single. “I want people all around the globe to know that there are girls in Asia, like me, who like hip-hop and dress uniquely.”
“The Baddest Female” is a catchy, hip-hop track with a few trendy dubstep beats. The track speaks CL’s thoughts and values on women empowerment.
She herself breaks the common stereotype of Asian women as being compliant and tamed through fierce lyrics translated to “I’m a queen bee, I’m a heroine / I’m like rugby ball, don’t know where I will bounce to next / On my neck is a gold chain swinging left, right/ I’m not lonely, every night I get right.”
“I’m not usually easily satisfied, but I put in a lot of love into this song. Not so much because it’s my first solo track, but because the song describes me the best,” explains CL, real name Chaelin Lee. “There are always two sides to a person. CL is me and so is Chaelin. CL and ‘The Baddest Female’ are the same. But in reality, my personality [Chaelin] is completely different from CL. What is portrayed on stage and in my music videos is different from my everyday lifestyle. But I want to people to see me as CL on stage and in my music.”
CL makes strong statements with both her music and style making her easily compared to Nicki Minaj. There is high anticipation for her to debut in the States. “I don’t have a specific target,” she says of crossover plans. “As long as there is one person who enjoys my music, I will want to do music. I want to make music that people can relate to. I don’t have a timetable or really a specific goal. I just want to make good music.”
Despite the tough girl image she puts out in public, she admits she would like to fall in love if the right guy should come along. “My ideal type I think it’s important to be with someone you can communicate with,” she explains. “Someone that you can build lasting memories and genuinely enjoy spending time with. I don’t really look at outer appearance or his finances. I earn my own money, so it doesn’t matter [laughs].”