Due to the extent of Hallyu’s spread, naturally, comparisons between Korean and Western artists are going to be made. This is being propagated with the use of “Korea’s insert name of Western artist here.” CL is just the latest victim of these comparisons and is being compared to Iggy Azalea. Although the initial comparison was made months ago on a message board, it’s now catching fire.
I’ll give you guys a moment to stop laughing.
First, let’s talk about talent. Or do we really need to discuss this? I’m not being biased, but to even think that Iggy has the talent to compete with CL is just an insult. CL raps, sings, dances and straight out performs on stage. Admittedly, I haven’t watched Iggy actually perform, but her rapping falls below that of CL. CL seems to naturally exude the charisma and flow needed to be a good rapper, whereas Iggy appears to just be putting up a front (more on that later).
Secondly, there’s participation to be considered. One of the most harped-on hallmarks of being a good, quality artist is the ability to be active in making your own music. Although CL hasn’t written all of her own songs, she at least has multiple credits to her name, including both lyrics and composition. Meanwhile, Iggy has about three lyric credits.
Also, let’s not lose sight of the fact that while Iggy was traveling around the United States trying to find someone willing to buy her as a rapper, CL had been active in the industry for almost 5 years. If you are going to refer to one artist as being another artist, at least do it with someone that possesses the same tenure.
The conversation should just stop here. If comparisons are to be made, it should be based on what the parties bring to the table. Clearly CL and Iggy are different. However, there are even more factors to consider in how the situation is off-base.
If there is one thing that Iggy does better than CL, it’s cultural appropriation. CL herself is guilty of instances of cultural appropriation, but it looks fairly innocuous compared to Iggy. The sheer lengths Iggy has gone to in order to sell a few records is astounding. She didn’t just pick up a style or music; she picked up an entirely different – read fake – persona.
Iggy puts on a southern American accent, even though she’s not from the United States, as if it’s okay to appropriate. Then there’s Iggy’s figure, which pushes forth this idea of what a black female rapper from the southern part of the United States should look like: doesn’t matter if it’s real or fake, you need a big butt. There’s a fine line between developing a stage concept (such as CL being a bad girl) and becoming a different person altogether.
CL isn’t just putting on a minstrel show to sell records. She seems to have a modicum of respect for the hip-hop genre and its purveyors; whereas Iggy makes a mockery of it all.
Lastly, there’s no doubt that Iggy has become the target of much deserved hate and disgust over the past few months. This is largely due to the above appropriation and the unapologetic racist idiocy that she is prone to spouting. She’s managed to make offensive remarks about practically every race and hasn’t left homosexuality out of her target sights, either. As far as I know, CL has never stuck her foot in her mouth. Instead, she appears to be a very articulate and knowledgeable young woman, unlike Iggy.
Calling CL “Korea’s Iggy Azalea” isn’t going to gain CL respect and acknowledgment from the hip-hop market. If anything, she’ll be treated with suspicion and wariness. The rumor of her working with Ariana Grande isn’t going to help matters, either. Nothing screams “try-hard non-black pop artist trying to be a rapper” like working with someone like Grande.
If people want to make comparisons, that’s fine, but at least make it relevant and logical. The way the press furthers this idea that Western artists are the epitome of an ideal is, at the very least, highly annoying. We’ve seen Ailee called “Korea’s Ariana Grande” and UKISS’ AJ called “Korea’s Justin Bieber“– which are both incredibly far from any sort of truth (we know Ailee can sing Ariana Grande under the table).
I get it, K-pop and K-hip hop developed based on what was happening in the West. However, these comparisons devalue and degrade all the hard work Korean artists have put into their careers, and ties their usefulness and relevancy to a connection with the Western music scene. Western music is put on a largely unwarranted pedestal; it – and the artists involved by extension – isn’t the be-all-end-all.
To put it simply: CL is CL. She is not the Korean version of another artist.
(LipstickAlley, HollyScoop, NY Post, Bossip, images via YG Entertainment, Universal Music UK, CL the Baddest Female)