How Nicki Minaj Kicked Open the Door for 2NE1

Nicki Minaj

In keeping with their moves toward global domination, 2NE1 is performing in Times Square today along with the other three MTV Iggy Best New Band finalists.

If this part of their launch is successful, they will be better positioned to make a dent in the US pop music market where many other popular Asian artists have failed before. Despite having huge fan bases overseas, artists that make their debuts in the US have generally been faced with lukewarm receptions. BoA’s self-titled English language release dropped in 2009 and barely dented the charts. Hikaru Utada (who to be fair, spent as much time in NYC as Japan coming up) attempted to make a genre-crossing album with 2004′s Exodus, which spawned a #1 single on the dance charts, but absolutely no impression elsewhere despite her work with hip-hop heavy weights like Darkchild and Foxy Brown. Utada’s 2009 English release This Is The One was designated a heat seeker with almost no radio airplay – but still only sold around 15,000 copies stateside. The Wonder Girls are still struggling to stay in the limelight after entering the charts with “Nobody” in 2009 but still trends fairly low. Se7en and Rain’s attempts never really got off the ground.

After watching good artists try and fail to make it in the US market, I began trying to find a pattern. Why was this happening? The reasons vary – particularly because artists often use their entry to the US as a kind of reinvention, which can be risky – but a big component is that American marketers/listeners had no idea what to do with them.

But, luckily for 2NE1, they have a secret weapon: Nicki Minaj.

It may seem strange to look at Nicki Minaj as the the person who put a crack in the Billboard ceiling big enough for 2NE1 to break through to the top spot, but it is her inherent strangeness and genrelessness that is opening the door for other women artists to bend the rules.

Both Minaj and 2NE1 are barrier breakers, crossing into pop music but bringing the swagger of rock and hip hop. For Minaj, she’s dominated the pop charts with rap ballads like “Super Bass,” and lent honeyed vocals and verses on Lil’ Wayne’s “Knockout”. 2NE1 is far, far more aggressive in appearance than more traditional pop groups like The Wonder Girls, which could have been a liability. But here too, Minaj’s eclectic fashion sense wins the day, as she’s appeared in everything from fetish gear to rococo swag:

Both Minaj and 2NE1 are also combatting societal scripts about what women of color can be. While Minaj occupies a space defined by feminist contradictions, she still actively defies the proper “place” for a black woman in the broader pop music space. Considering the limited spaces where black women are allowed to appear, it’s remarkable how Minaj has carved out a space for herself in both urban markets and the fashion industry. 2NE1 is facing off against stereotypes around Asian American women – particularly the submissive stereotypes that would push them out of the more aggressive sides of the pop and hip-hop scenes. Think about it – it was hard enough for Jin, an Asian American rapper that proved himself time and time again freestyling on 106 and Park, to get taken seriously in the US market even when signed to the Rough Ryders label. And despite putting in tons of work on the West Coast underground scene, there was no place on the airwaves for Far East Movement – until they completely overhauled their sound and image, sailing up the the charts with more simplistic rhymes and dance-oriented beats. Asian women have an even harder climb – the roles are even more constrained by race and gender expectations. Since I don’t follow folk and indie rock, I can’t comment on Thao Ngyuen’s presentation. But here’s 2NE1 – and they don’t fit anything that’s currently a path to radio airplay. And they for DAMN sure don’t fit the existing Asian stereotypes – I don’t see them getting a show on Cartoon Network anytime soon. Especially not with lyrics like this:

Ridin’ down Seoul city
Black on black Lamborghini
Haters can’t never see me
Come and get me, too slow
I’m bout that paper chasing
Body, fly face amazing
Burn burn keeps it blazin
Too hot to handle, can’t touch this
You think you with it with it
But you can’t hit it hit it
U know I got it got it

Cuz I’m so bout it bout it
I let them hoes know
I run this show show
We get it poppin
And we stick you for your dough dough
Cuz I’m so bad bad
But I’m so good good
Yeah I’m so bad bad
And I’m so hood hood!

Hell, they might even make it on hip-hop airwaves. On a recent trip to the airport, one of my local hip hop stations started playing “Party Rock” – and since everything’s got a dance beat on it nowadays, anything could happen!

What is also fascinating to me is their simultaneous acceptance and rejection of beauty. While Minaj and the 2NE1 crew are considered attractive by conventional standards, they each grapple with culturally influenced ideas of beauty. Early on in her career,I read an interview with Minaj where she responded to someone criticizing one of her more out there looks by saying something like “maybe I don’t feel like being pretty to you today.” In our culture, where women are marketed heavily based on their sex appeal, it was interesting to see Minaj reject that framework, even as she courts it. (She has also advised girls that sex appeal isn’t enough to get ahead.)

I thought of Minaj’s comments while listening to 2NE1′s “Ugly,” a track where four beautiful women identify with unattractiveness.

2NE1 and Minaj’s embrace of unattractiveness/ugliness seems strange on its face, but it makes a lot of sense. For Minaj, rebelling against the tyranny of forced attractiveness (kind of like when men shout at you on the street to smile, when they have no idea who you are or what you are dealing with) is a way of maintaining the true self. It’s strange that not wanting to be pretty all the time is almost a revolutionary notion, but here we are. Along those same lines, 2NE1′s lyrics on “Ugly” refer less to a physical reality and more to an emotional state:

I think I’m ugly
And nobody wants to love me
Just like her I wanna be pretty
I wanna be pretty
Don’t lie to my face
cuz I know I’m ugly

[DARA] All alone
I’m all alone x 2

The idea that beauty is tied in with feelings of self-worth should be familiar to most folks, regardless of their awareness of feminist theory. But it is fascinating how many similarities emerge, whether we are talking about the tyranny of “thickness” or Korean women marching through the alphabet trying to find the perfect body line.

While both artists approach this from a different perspective, they are complicating the conversation around beauty in ways that generally haven’t happened in a long time. To build in a point of reference, it’s been eleven years since TLC dropped “Unpretty” and eleven years since Joydrop released “Beautiful.” Occasionally, a singer will vocalize feelings of insecurity around their looks – but since this isn’t popular, it isn’t often done. (Interestingly, 2NE1 balances “Ugly” with “I Am the Best” on their album – a song for all moods, I suppose.)

So, the chances are looking for for 2NE1 to gain a toehold in the American market – marketers and audiences only have to look at Minaj’s star to allow 2NE1 to shine.

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  • Sammy W96

    Just want to point it out, 2NE1 likes nicki minaj, CL preformed a solo stage at their concert nolza using one of nicki’s songs.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cocojams-Jambalayah/100000590546331 Cocojams Jambalayah

    So USA females and males who support diversity are supposed to support an Asian female group just because the group is Asian, even though they  use the word “ho” as a referent for females? I hope not.  

    Because hip-hop isn’t a genre of music I follow, I’m not going to comment about the songs that were featured. But regarding the Ugly video, I don’t think attractive women putting panties over their mouth as masks make them ugly, I also don’t think that wearing those clothes in the video turned those females into girls who who think they are physically unattractive or girls whom others think are physically unattractive. And I admit that I stopped watching that video after those fake “ugly girls” threw a brick at a window with the sign “beautiful girls”. So that’s another response that should be promoted? I hope not.

    As an aside, I’ve been informally studying the way text messaging and internet short hand lingo is used on the internet by youth and young adults. One of the things I’ve noticed is how a lot of  internet tag names include numbers. I wonder if the group 2NE1 chose their name with that it mind. I think names that artists and groups choose are a part of whether they appeal to the general public (and I’m sure that a name that is appealing in one nation may be ho hum or a turn off in other nations. I personally think that this 2NE1 name is trying too hard to be hip, but then again I’ve already admitted that hip-hop music isn’t usually my thing although though I like studying its creative use of written and oral language & spelling -like the word “phat” pronounced like “fat” but not meaning physically fat). I also like studying the way the body stances  associated with hip-hop have become international. For a cute example of this, here’s a link to a post I recently added to my blog of the Black British 2 year old rapper (whose father  & mother are really rappers), This post includes excerpted comments about rappers worldwide: http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2011/12/globalization-of-hip-hop-culture.html The Globilization of Hip Hop Culture

    • Pinkorchid5830

      Regarding your last paragraph: Actually according to their wikipedia page, their management team wanted to name the group, “21,” but later found out that their was another musician with the same number-name. So they changed the name to include letters as well as numbers to keep the name and imbue it with more meaning “21st century”/”new evolution.” According to the article, I can consider myself a “blackjack” since I’m a fan :)

    • http://twitter.com/SariRainMJ Sari Kang

      I just wanted to point out that the masks aren’t made of panties (how’d you… even figure that?) They’re custom made masks, ACTUAL MASKS, by a Japanese company. 

      • Iceapple05

        i second your comment…i was totally confused how those masks could resemble panties…

    • http://twitter.com/SariRainMJ Sari Kang

      Also, I’d like to point out that, in the K-pop world, 2NE1 actually are considered “ugly”, compared to SNSD, or Wonder Girls, especially CL, and Minzy. And Bom is called “plastic” all the time, because of her choice to do plastic surgery, after many people called her ugly when she first debuted on a Big Bang track in maybe 06 or 07. Dara is the only one considered universally attractive. The song was very personal for them, because they AREN’T the typical “pretty/doll-like” Kpop girls and have received a lot of criticism because of this. It really sucks when someone like you can come and judge them for their song & video when you don’t know their story and how the song very much relates to them. By Korean standards, they AREN’T the typical pretty girl. They aren’t the lightest skinned, don’t have double eyelids, have round faces, aren’t super skinny. The song “Ugly” is totally about them, and about all of us who are pretty, but not pretty ENOUGH by our countries’ standards of beauty on TV in movies and magazines. I think that’s why 2NE1 has more female fans than other girl groups; because they look like real girls. Of course, they’re high fashion (or crazy fashion), wear make-up, have cool hair, but look at them, then look at SNSD. They’re not the pretty girls, in their industry. But I’m glad you think they’re pretty. 

    • Bla

      I think if you were involved with Korean pop culture you’d find many “netizens” love criticising them for being average and ugly. It’s usually only the fandom that will not think that way about them.

      One of those girls is only 15/16 but still the media is commenting about her “glamorous S body shape”. They may feel ugly. And people in the K-popverse already know that one of the members had quite a lot of surgery, not only because of societal pressure but because of stans bashing her for being part of projects with other at-the-time popular celebrities. So before you are disregarding it because thankfully, *you* don’t think they’re unattractive, we must also look at the back-story.

      • http://www.facebook.com/marsjunkiegirl Sarah Stephen

        Gong Minji’s nearly 18, but other than that your comment is quite accurate.

      • http://www.facebook.com/marsjunkiegirl Sarah Stephen

        Gong Minji’s nearly 18, but other than that your comment is quite accurate.

      • http://www.facebook.com/marsjunkiegirl Sarah Stephen

        Gong Minji’s nearly 18, but other than that your comment is quite accurate.

    • http://www.facebook.com/marsjunkiegirl Sarah Stephen

      “I don’t think attractive women putting panties over their mouth as masks make them ugly, I also don’t think that wearing those clothes in the video turned those females into girls who who think they are physically unattractive or girls whom others think are physically unattractive. “People make a thread every single day on discussion forums (both korean and english-language) about how ‘ugly’ and ‘fat’ CL of 2NE1 is, and say she looks like a man. The worst part is, she knows about it, too. I don’t think you get how obsessed with looks korean culture is. At all. S.Korea has the highest per-capita rates of plastic surgery in the world, and one of the highest rates of eating disorders in the world. This song is completely relevant to them, and to young korean women.

    • http://www.facebook.com/marsjunkiegirl Sarah Stephen

      “I don’t think attractive women putting panties over their mouth as masks make them ugly, I also don’t think that wearing those clothes in the video turned those females into girls who who think they are physically unattractive or girls whom others think are physically unattractive. “People make a thread every single day on discussion forums (both korean and english-language) about how ‘ugly’ and ‘fat’ CL of 2NE1 is, and say she looks like a man. The worst part is, she knows about it, too. I don’t think you get how obsessed with looks korean culture is. At all. S.Korea has the highest per-capita rates of plastic surgery in the world, and one of the highest rates of eating disorders in the world. This song is completely relevant to them, and to young korean women.

  • Kaydee-P

    …Does this mean we can have GD and TOP too? :)

    Great post, Latoya. I do see the similarities in Nicki and 2NE1′s styles, but I still feel like Nicki bends far more toward sexuality for a man’s eye, while 2NE1 is more on the road of not giving an eff and if they happen to pick up the male gaze on the way, then cool.

  • Pinkorchid5830

    In my highschool day, I was a big fan of J-pop and K-rap, listening to puffy or tiger jade. I witness some Korean acts try to expand to the American mainstream audience with less than stellar results like you described. But I’m still somewhat confused about the process. I would think that the language barrier or the knowledge of knowing that these are not american acts would keep the “mainstream” from accepting these talented artists. I know people say that music knows no bounds and all, but everyone can see what we do to good movies that are foreign. We barely even bother with the possibility of re-releasing such a movie with subtitle before someone has the bright idea of just remaking the whole thing with american actors in english. People are still trying to make “English” as the “official” language of the U.S. So I think 2NE1 has a long road ahead of them if they want to succeed over here. Seeing as how “open” we Americans like to claim we are.

    • Anonymous

      Oh yeah! I want to do a whole thing about the colonial tongue – how in almost every other pop scene, English bleeds into popular song, and there’s a passing familiarity with major US based artists, but that never happens here.

  • http://politiciansathogwarts.blogspot.com Sarah

    Interesting article. I’m also a fan of 2NE1 (was just listening to them today, funnily enough).

    What you seem to be saying, on the most basic level, is that because Nikki Minaj was weird first and was accepted, then that means 2NE1 has a shot because Americans are becoming more accustomed to WOC being contradictory (though I’m not buying that Minaj is a contradiction–aggressive sexuality is often ascribed to Black women.) Okay, fair enough. Maybe 2NE1 will be welcomed into the American mainstream because we’re willing to listen to aggressive female voices. 

    But I’m not sure that I think Nikki Minaj was the trailblazer. In fact, I’d be interested in seeing what forces acted on Nikki Minaj’s success and whether these are the same forces that will allow 2NE1 to break into the market. I’m skeptical that it was just Minaj’s force of personality that made her successful. Working hard isn’t a necessary indicator of success, not in the music industry anyway. I’d argue that both Nikki Minaj and 2NE1′s success will rely on the same factors. I just wish I knew what those factors are. Nikki Minaj didn’t magically appear and shatter the barriers around her. She still worked with structural constraints.
    politiciansathogwarts.blogspot.com

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, it’s worth a bit more unpacking. I took a break from another piece to write this one, so there are a few different things I will probably circle back to if I actually get assigned an article on this…

  • s. mandisa

    I was also hoping the article would talk about the complexities and nuances of how Minaj often appropriates Asian culture into some of her music, more specifically the fetishizing of Asian women. I think that would make the interesting analysis you put forward even more interesting, if nothing else ironic, because its one of the things I definitely have a problem with from her. The video for “Your Love” and the one with Will.i.am being the 2 best examples

    • Anonymous

      That was covered here:

      http://www.racialicious.com/2010/11/01/the-orientalism-of-nicki-minaj/

      But I have another convo on AfroAsiatic allegories that gets into it more deeply. Depends on if I can finish it this week or not.

      • Missy

        That’s great Latoya!

        I hope you can cover how Kpop is basically the appropriation of (African) American culture  in that ‘AfroAsiatic allegories’ conversation too! ;)

  • Dakkdari

    It’s not that I don’t see the connection, but I feel little like an interesting is being overstated a bit. I feel like is Nicki Minaj is part of the equation, but I wouldn’t say she kicked any doors open, more like she’s one of many door stoppers.

    First off, the awareness of Korea cultural is sort of at a prime in the mainstream. Before it was just the handful of your friends who watched Old Boy. Now, whether it’s movies or dramas or even food (hello, Jean Georges Vongerichten’s wife hosting a show on PBS about kimchi?), the mainstream awareness of Korea nowadays compared to just 3 or 5 years ago is leaps and bounds different. Like when I bring up Korea to my friends, I actually have more things to talk about than just how funny kimchi smells and “Are you from the good one or the bad one?” In fact, some of them might even school me on movies or songs I haven’t seen or heard of myself.

    Second, Nicki Minaj’s popularity in the mainstream is one of many shifts in the tastes of people nowadays. One that is at odds with many of the Korean singers that have tried (or are still trying) to make it over here in the States.

    The likes of Rain, Wonder Girls…in fact, let’s just call them the JYP projects in general, have’nt done AS well in the mainstream, because of what I blame mainly has JYP’s style. The dude pushes and odd style of an alternate 90s where Koreans are still rehashing that R&B cum Korean pop cum some rap. A friend of mine said I HAD to listen to Miss A, and I did, and it was like I time travelled to middle school and have expected Deuce to start playing next and I was living in a world where SOLID never broke up. Even the whole retro throwback styling of the Wonder Girls for “Nobody” seems old hat and tired, like it was just catching on to try and bank on the Dreamgirls popularity as well as do a bit of Christina Aguilera-ing.

    On the other hand, 2NE1 (as well as G-Dragon of Big Bang, their other fashion/style YG Entertainment compatriot), are more on point with what is popping nowadays in the mainstream that makes them more appealing than your typical JYP smooth groove from the 90s project. In particular with what is popular with younger people who are making most of these trend and purchasing decisions.

    Nicki Minaj (ALONG with others like, yes, Lady Gaga, Kreayshawn, etc.) are indicative products of the change in tastes. It’s especially in visible when you look at fashion. For example ,Robyn’s video for “You Can’t Handle Me” entirely wardrobed by Jeremy Scott outfits, or Rihanna wearing Jeremy Scott Flinstones’ inspired clothes in the “Rude Boy” video (Jeremy Scott being relevant, because 2NE1 wears a lot of his pieces, and the two have even collaborated). American Apparel’s multi-colored tight pants. Graphic t-shirts. Sneaker heads. Odd 90s-80s throwbacks with dookie chains and bamboo (oddly enough the type of styling I saw even in Coco Rosie’s video for “Noah’s Ark”). The expanded meaning of “urban” fashion from Kanye’s own “College Dropout” days. So in GENERAL, regardless of what one thinks of all the person’s listed in this paragraph, there has been a blurring between what is considered hip hop and other styles for a while now.

    And in fact, 2NE1′s styling and the way they carry themselves fit in with these current trends a lot more than other K-pop groups trying to make it in the U.S. Now is Nicki Minaj evidence of such a trend, yes, but I wouldn’t necessarily credit her entirely with being the main thrust of this popularity/acceptance.

    • Kitty

      I’d have to agree.  I think current mainstream musical tastes have a lot to do with the degree of success that Asian artists have in the US.  Jay Chou and Wang Lee Hom are a bit cheesy by our standards. 

    • Anonymous

      The likes of Rain, Wonder Girls…in fact, let’s just call them the JYP projects in general, have’nt done AS well in the mainstream, because of what I blame mainly has JYP’s style. The dude pushes and odd style of an alternate 90s where Koreans are still rehashing that R&B cum Korean pop cum some rap. A friend of mine said I HAD to listen to Miss A, and I did, and it was like I time travelled to middle school and have expected Deuce to start playing next and I was living in a world where SOLID never broke up.

      ROFL! Thank you for finally putting a finger on JYP’s perpetual time warp. Now that you mention it, that is Miss A. I agree there’s more of a cultural mashing and it’s deeper than Minaj. But in terms of most similar sound to be marketed (and/or who would be the natural person to tour with), I would say Minaj. But you can make the argument a bunch of ways, I just hope it works.

    • Dakkdari

      Oh, man, I also just realized I got typos all up in the above comment. My apologies to folks who can’t parse what the hell I’m trying to say thanks to furious typing in a short amount of time. I was trying to get all my thoughts out while they were still fresh before I got sidetracked with something else.

    • Dakkdari

      Oh, man, I also just realized I got typos all up in the above comment. My apologies to folks who can’t parse what the hell I’m trying to say thanks to furious typing in a short amount of time. I was trying to get all my thoughts out while they were still fresh before I got sidetracked with something else.

    • Dakkdari

      Oh, man, I also just realized I got typos all up in the above comment. My apologies to folks who can’t parse what the hell I’m trying to say thanks to furious typing in a short amount of time. I was trying to get all my thoughts out while they were still fresh before I got sidetracked with something else.

  • kim

    Really great and interesting read!

    @Irresistible_Revolution:disqus  so true. I generally like Gaga (her music isn’t exactly groundbreaking but that’s another discussion) but she is considered a fashion icon while Nicki tends to be derided as gimmicky or even just tacky.

  • Anonymous

    I’m just not seeing it. This is a great analysis but what does Nicki Minaj have to do with 2NE1? KPop has been popular underground for a very long time in the US. There are many(myself included) who are willing to support 2NE1 outside of the mainstream US radio airwaves. See the three day concert in Las Vegas this past month at $300+ a seat and the huge concerts in NYC over the summer.
     I don’t think a “takeover” is necessary.

    • Anonymous

      Of course there are fans. But if they weren’t aiming to dominate the US market, why spend years prepping for this debut? There are major established fan bases (as there were for the YG tour, for Rain’s US tour, etc) but these artists were specifically trying to go for the mainstream. As I said in the article, Nicki has been able to break boundaries between pop and hip-hop, creating space for 2NE1′s sound on our airwaves since they also genre bend.

    • http://www.facebook.com/marsjunkiegirl Sarah Stephen

      Um…because YG doesn’t make money if they just stay in Korea? S.Korea has a tiny sales market compared to the US and Japan.  Which is also why YG signed with Avex this year and pushes its artists in Japan as well. Cracking the Japan and US nuts are the ultimate goal of every Korean entertainment company, because at the end of the day, what matters is profits. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/marsjunkiegirl Sarah Stephen

      Um…because YG doesn’t make money if they just stay in Korea? S.Korea has a tiny sales market compared to the US and Japan.  Which is also why YG signed with Avex this year and pushes its artists in Japan as well. Cracking the Japan and US nuts are the ultimate goal of every Korean entertainment company, because at the end of the day, what matters is profits. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/marsjunkiegirl Sarah Stephen

      Um…because YG doesn’t make money if they just stay in Korea? S.Korea has a tiny sales market compared to the US and Japan.  Which is also why YG signed with Avex this year and pushes its artists in Japan as well. Cracking the Japan and US nuts are the ultimate goal of every Korean entertainment company, because at the end of the day, what matters is profits. 

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t have made the Nicki Minaj connection, but you’re right. 

    I think why BoA, Utada, Rain really haven’t been successful over here is because they really haven’t put into the effort. That, and their music is so poppy–the USA hasn’t been that poppy since Britney Spears was 16. Or, you have people like Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus who appeal to teeny poppers who want someone to lust after. 

    Aiming a female pop/rap/dance group that appeals to adult dudes of all colors is probably the easiest way to go. 

    • Anonymous

      Hmm…disagree on some of those. It was too complicated to go into (though I may pitch an article) but each artist brought something different.

      I think Rain would fall under not making a huge effort (and why would he have to?) But BoA definitely put a good effort in – she just lost a part of herself in the transition. A lot of the confidence I heard on her tracks in Korean vanished when she worked in English. I don’t know why that happened. She also did a heavily dance album (and changed her image with it), which kind of doomed her then. I wonder now, if BoA had dropped her album in the aftermath of the success of FM’s Free Wired, if it would have had the same reception. Soundwise, it’s really similar to what’s on the airwaves now. So she could have just come a bit too early.

      I wouldn’t describe either of Hikki’s efforts as poppy and I think she made the most sincere effort. But her songs are complicated. I don’t think I liked Exodus the first time I heard it – now I love it. But it was rough – I expected her to come out with a more soulful sound (a la “Automatic” and “In My Room”) so for a fan like me, it was a rough transition to her Utada reboot. Changed image and different sound. “Easy Breezy” still isn’t what I would have chosen as a single, ever – and it was “Devil Inside” that actually charted and went to the top of the Dance charts. But “Crossover Interlude” explained what she was doing there, which is kind of awesome but also torpedoed her chances since the music market is still really tight with their ideas of marketing sounds. More than any one else, her sound just didn’t fit anywhere. A perfect examination of that one is her track “About Me” which is really odd, a very pared down, acoustic with a bit of an electronic back. I didn’t like it for the longest time, but it stuck in my head because of the lyrics. And the disconnect between the sound and the lyrics is still jarring to me. But in hindsight, Hikki was using that album as a transition – she was really trying to grow herself as an artist, to become a different person in the open space of the American market. By her second album, I think she had just come to terms that she wanted something different out of these albums. She intentionally went super small, she was a bit more overtly sexual, a bit more experimental. But she was also coming to the end of her career – she took a hiatus shortly after wrapping the tour. She was also divorcing – ultimately, I think her English albums were just her working out things.

      So I think it’s more complicated than just the effort, but that’s something I’ll have to do later…

      • Anonymous

        I would love to read it! 

        I totally missed BoA’s try into the US market……I wish Rain would do more movies. I loved him in Ninja Assassin! 

        • http://twitter.com/SariRainMJ Sari Kang

          Rain plans to do more US movies after his service in the Korean military. :) He just went in this October, so he won’t be back until 2013, unfortunately. But, I’ve heard he has another US project all lined up for after he completes his military service. He actually had several offers after Ninja Assassin, but had to turn them all down, as he was finishing up his last Korean projects before entering military this year. The Expendables was one that wanted Rain, but unfortunately he had to turn it down. :( 

  • Lumipresent

    While I have to give Nicky her props as an artist – I don’t think she played any part in 2ne1 being accepted here. Almost all of the 2ne1 fans – blackjacks – I know have, for the most part, been fans of the girls long before Nicky was a big deal. Almost of them became fans through some other Kpop outlet. And almost none of them are fans of Nicky Minaj at all, on any level. It feels, to me, as if the article is dismissing the possibility that 2ne1 could have garnered there success through and measures of their own and trying to once again establish someone in the U.S. as a bridge to legitimize their presence where their presence needs no legitimizing. 

    • Anonymous

      2NE1 hasn’t been accepted in the broader US market. That was the gap I referred to in the beginning of the article. They have tons of fans here, but that doesn’t mean they will make it to the airwaves. And just having a large fan base doesn’t translate to success stateside – that’s why they are working with Will.I.Am on their 2012 debut here. The music industry has the same mentality as the film industry – everyone wants to be first to be second. So for someone to make it, they have to be different enough to distinguish themselves but similar enough to be marketed.

      Remember, 2NE1 is still doing a lot of their US based promos through Asian focused outlets like MTV Iggy (which is in existence because MTV K and some of their other brands failed and had to be mashed together). This article is not a commentary on how 2NE1 wouldn’t make it on their own skills, but rather how shitty the American market is to popular Asian artists, and why Minaj gives industry folks and fans a frame of reference for what 2NE1 is doing.

    • http://twitter.com/SariRainMJ Sari Kang

      Lumipresent, I think to say that almost no 2NE1 fans are Nicki Minaj fans is naive, and assumes too much about both artists fanbases. I am a 2NE1 fan. I discovered them through loving Big Bang, and watching them debut on the same label. I usually don’t even like female K-pop groups, but 2NE1 set themselves apart from the rest, and I fell in love with them. I am also a Nicki Minaj fan. I became her fan after hearing her crazy raps and falling in love with her crazy style. I did become a fan of both independent from each other, but I AM a fan of both. I think it isn’t even a stretch to say that they are fans of each other. I’m still pretty sure that the Check It Out video featuring will.i.am was 2NE1 inspired, because of the style and the use of Korean words in the video (Though Nicki called it Japanese -_-) And I’m pretty sure 2NE1 probably finds Nicki to be cool. I mean, she is pretty much THE only female rapper out right now in the Western market (on the mainstream side of things.) And it’s certainly not a stretch to compare the two. I’ve heard 2NE1 compared to Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga (who are the same thing, basically), TLC, and Missy Elliot. None of that is bad, and all of that is something anyone should be glad to be compared to. And this article is basically saying that Nicki Minaj’s quirky hip-hop/pop style and crazy clothing makes it easier for a group like 2NE1 to make sense to a broad US market. That’s not a difficult concept, considering they AREN’T popular with the mainstream in the US. I think K-pop fans get a bit overzealous, at times. Yes, our girls are popular, yes, they have fans all over the world and they do their thing. But until they can sell a million records in the States alone, they’re not really doing it, here. In Korea, if you sell 300,000 that’s like equivalent to going double platinum, and if you sell 1,000,000 that’s like going diamond. This isn’t to say that 2NE1 isn’t good enough to. If ANYONE from K-pop can break into the US market and be big, it’s 2NE1. But, you have to be realistic. K-pop artists don’t do well, here. Not outside of their original US fanbases. I’ve been a K-pop fan since 2006, and I’ve watched BoA flop, and Se7en flop, and Wonder Girls flop, and so on and so on. These are/were the BIGGEST artists in K-pop, but they couldn’t translate it well. If 2NE1 can translate their formula to the US market, they’ll be huge! But then, there’s still that “four Asian women” factor that could hurt them. Nicki Minaj’s influence on the music industry may not have directly influenced 2NE1, but it definitely influenced the market enough to be ready for something like 2NE1. I get exactly what this article is saying. 

    • Anonymous

      I agree. I’m from queens NY and I knew who 2ne1 was almost 2 years before nicki minaj occured to me.