- Before joining the kpop group 'Rania' she starred in Jamie Fox's MV in 'You Changed Me'
- She was a Def Jam affiliated artist and also a model
- Was a super late edition to the group (like 2 weeks before the album was released), to the point that she isn't even in the music video, nor was she taught the full dance routine or had time to learn korean
- A lot of hate actually comes from international fans of kpop, South Koreans have been welcoming her
Actually no, I’m not. I have heard that there has been a bunch of press, but I have not read a single article. I do not search the internet or read extensively through comments because as a rule, I only worry about things that I can control.
Therefore, all of my focus is directed towards going onstage and doing a phenomenal job. Concerning myself with reactions (good or bad) would ultimately just be a distraction, so I opt to remain oblivious. All I have really seen in passing is the love directed to me on Twitter and Instagram, and it’s so touching that I can inspire people.
Aside from your surprise inclusion to the band, what sets RANIA apart from other K-Pop groups? And are you afraid of simply being seen as a foreign novelty?
RANIA’s whole flavor is powerful. In its sexiness, there is no weakness. I would have no interest in being a part of something that doesn’t represent women as strong and powerful forces.
You have an overwhelming amount of weight to not only perform as an artist, but to also simultaneously represent people of color and prove your naysayers wrong. What are you doing to help prepare yourself for the challenge?
The only pressure I feel surrounds the fact that I could essentially blaze a trail for others to chase their dreams regardless of ethnicity. That means more to me than any other success I could ever achieve. In order to open those doors, I can’t just be good; I have to be great. Fortunately, I feel well prepared up to this point because I have dedicated my life to my craft, and this is what I was born to do; I would never waste energy that could be utilized in proving my supporters right.
The expectations are high for RANIA. What is your role in the group? Are you rapping and singing? Will you also incorporate some Korean in your verses?
My role is to bring my unique flavor to everything we do. I am rapping, singing, and composing music for the group. I plan to incorporate Korean into my verses as it comes naturally. I will not force it or insert it for the sake of marketing or gaining fans. When it’s simply right for the rhyme and sounds fly: that’s when I will incorporate it.
“Eating Samgyeopsal with my new sisters…” again, in your blog, you mentioned a very important experience in South Korea. What are some others ways that your Korean sisters have helped you assimilate into Korean culture?
The girls have taken me in as family, and helped immensely when it comes to making Seoul my new home. They go above and beyond to make sure that I know the proper greetings so that I always appear to be respectful and avoid any misjudgments. I am so appreciative of their support in my efforts to assimilate. Xia gifted me a coat on my third day here because she noticed I was always freezing. Seulji brought me tights because mine were torn. I couldn’t have asked for a kinder or more supportive group of girls.
K-Pop is known for incorporating English in their songs to appeal to a larger audience. Hip-hopop elements are also incorporated, which is great so long as the artist understands and values the meaning and essence. As the first black artist in a K-Pop group, will people have a different take on cultural appropriation within K-pop? Does the dialogue change?
I don’t know that the dialogue changes. All music pulls elements from different genres. It’s a high form of praise. The roots of hip-hop are rich and meaningful. There is a lot of struggle, pain, and even death in its history. That needs to be remembered and respected forever. I’m not Afrika Bambaataa here. The music I make only pays homage to the artists who paved the way for these sounds. If anything, I just blur the line within K-Pop a bit more.
The music collaboration between Asians and Black Americans is actually quite extensive. Teddy Riley, Ne-Yo, Missy Elliott, Will.i.am, and few others come to mind. Hip-hop and R&B has certainly experimented in the last few years—sub genres are being created now. Aesthetically, where do you see K-Pop in the next 5-10 years?
Aesthetically, K-Pop could be a melting pot of cultures while remaining true to the classic elements of melody, world-class showmanship, and larger than life visuals. Talent should stand alone. There should never be boundaries set due to ethnicity.
ONTD, do you think kpop should be more diverse or stay a 'korean' thing?