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Yaeji is the eerie electro-pop princess you didn’t know you needed

With+fashion+as+quirky+as+her+music%2C+Yaeji%E2%80%99s+signature+style+is+comprised+of+large%2C+wire-rimmed+glasses%2C+fringe-y+black+bangs+and+eclectic+clothing.+Illustration+by+Izzie+Bartholomew.
With fashion as quirky as her music, Yaeji’s signature style is comprised of large, wire-rimmed glasses, fringe-y black bangs and eclectic clothing. Illustration by Izzie Bartholomew.

With fashion as quirky as her music, Yaeji’s signature style is comprised of large, wire-rimmed glasses, fringe-y black bangs and eclectic clothing. Illustration by Izzie Bartholomew.

With fashion as quirky as her music, Yaeji’s signature style is comprised of large, wire-rimmed glasses, fringe-y black bangs and eclectic clothing. Illustration by Izzie Bartholomew.

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Bass. Drama. A lesson in how to speak Korean. This is the typical recipe for an album by New York-based singer, rapper and producer Kathy Yaeji Lee, better known as simply Yaeji.

EP2 is her second EP, or non-full-length album of the year, a follow-up to her self-titled debut released March 30. After making a name for herself in the deep underground of SoundCloud, Yaeji has broken into the mainstream with a distinct aesthetic and a unique, lo-fi yet futuristic sound. EP2 is just over 18 minutes long with five tracks. Each song title is uncapitalized, reflecting the soft, introspective nature of her work.

Her first track, “feelings change,” is alluring in the same way an abandoned, decrepit house in the woods is. It’s haunting and unnerving but ignites a morbid curiosity. Yaeji’s voice is faint; only a little more than a whisper. The rumbling, nearly silent notes of bass punctuate the strange rhythm of her odd vocals. It sounds kind of like someone doing spoken-word poetry over the “Stranger Things” theme. It’s surreal, creepy and just slightly foreboding.

The album then takes a sharp detour with “raingurl.” While “feelings change” whispers slam poetry, “raingurl” screams dance club. The beat is easy, hypnotizing and completely captivating. Yaeji chants “make it rain girl, make it rain” over and over, and although her voice is soft it has a strangely empowering air to it. This track will have you seeing strobe lights and feeling the buzz of a New York City party without ever leaving your room.

“drink i’m sippin on” sees Yaeji fully embrace her Korean roots. Nearly the entire song is in her native language. The cadence is similar to a stripped-down, chilled-out rap. When translated, the lyrics describe a murky party scene, specifically the negative aspects. She croons “I don’t remember yesterday” and “that’s not it, no that’s not it.” The overall mood is one of confusion. The only English lyrics contrast this as she sings “bringing out the colors in me, I feel so fine” in a happy daze.

Next on the tracklist is “after that,” which begins closer to “feelings change” than to “raingurl.” There’s a solid minute or so of trippy pinpricks of electronica over a trap-like drumbeat and, of course, intoxicating levels of bass. The Korean continues throughout and her voice is dreamier than ever. Yaeji can be described as the angel of the house music scene, floating down on a cloud of neon with analog 808s in place of a harp.

The EP closes with a cover of Drake’s “Passionfruit.” At their bare bones, the two variations of the song are fairly similar in style and beat. However, where Drake is loud, Yaeji goes quiet. Where his delivery is striking, hers is soft. His lyrics are loud and clear, and she shrouds them in a delicate mystery. In a way, she is his more demure and feminine counterpart. It’s a perfect lullaby to close out a hazy, streetlight-soaked dream of an album.

After two ethereal EPs and a handful of infectious dance-pop singles, Yaeji is off to a promising start as a newly emerging artist. Hopefully, she’ll continue to entrance listeners in the near future.

 

by IZZIE BARTHOLOMEW

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The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.
Yaeji is the eerie electro-pop princess you didn’t know you needed