[Fader] Meet CL, the K-pop star who’s actually about to cross over

April 17, 2015





Since the age of 14, CL has been groomed in the art of stardom. That’s when the South Korean singer and rapper born Lee Chae-rin signed to the behemoth YG Entertainment, where she’s thrived as a member of the K-Pop girl group 2NE1. But in Los Angeles, where she has been working to launch her solo career with an English-language album, CL is away from the nest and flying under the radar for the first time. “I’m not really used to just walking around,” she tells me. “I went to an Usher concert, and it felt so weird because no one was taking care of me. I went with Diplo, but I got lost. I was looking for him for like an hour, but couldn’t find him. Everyone was pushing me around, asking me if I’m Japanese, Chinese—it was amazing.” At least for now, America offers CL the thrill of feeling un-famous.

Besides PSY, with his unexpected viral hit “Gangnam Style,” no one from the technicolor dream world of K-Pop has been able to cross over in the States yet. But the 24-year-old CL is a strong contender. Part rapper and part singer, she’s beautiful, talented, swaggy, and fluent in English due to a youth spent in international schools. She’s got big supporters, too: she has been recording with Skrillex, Diplo, and will.i.am, and her career is being co-managed by YG and Scooter Braun, the impresario who launched Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen.