The flood of K-pop acts streaming into Hong Kong continues unabated with the arrival next month of girl group 2NE1. The AsiaWorld-Expo gig next month will be their second local appearance.
The announcement was made to coincide with yesterday's release of the South Korean quartet's sophomore album, Crush. The album was four years in the making and includes the futuristic hip hop the band are known for, according to the band's members - CL, Bom, Dara and Minzy.
"Some songs are very 2NE1-sounding and, in some songs, you can see we tried to challenge our style. Hip hop is the foundation of our music, but each of the songs has their own characteristics," says Lee Chae-rin, otherwise known as CL, the group's leader and rapper.
CL, who turned 23 yesterday, is one of the most well known female rappers in K-pop. She is the only member of the group to have recorded a solo album, due for release later this year.
She tried out a solo career last year with the release of a single and video The Baddest Female, featuring her rapping in African-American slang, decked out in gold grills and with a tan that would make a Californian housewife jealous.
CL says she wrote three songs on the 2NE1 album. "Although our official poster gives off a sci-fi feeling, there are various genres represented in our songs," she says.
2NE1 were launched in 2009 by YG Entertainment, a record label formed by a former member of Seo Taji and Boys, a prominent pop act from the 1990s. With labelmates including G-Dragon from Big Bang and rapper Masta Wu contributing to the album, Crush has a broad sonic palette that incorporates electronic dance music.
The group claims influences from a range of musical genres and acts outside of South Korea. Vocalist and rapper Minji "Minzy" Gong, who is the group's youngest member at 21, offers up Ciara, Michael and Janet Jackson, for example.
"We are also inspired by Snoop Dogg and we reflect that in our dance, songs and gestures," says CL.
With four years between studio releases, the group is poised to perform well on the charts and to please dedicated fans. Publicity ahead of yesterday's release promised to "reward fans' patience with this great new album".
The group are mindful of their support base, particularly the Blackjacks, the official 2NE1 fan club. The quartet know they are viewed as role models and strive for "conscientious creativity".
"We have become more careful about how we influence young fans," a statement from the group says.
"But, on the other hand, we want to inspire courage and strength as well. We want to be artists who can inspire a good sense of direction and confidence. We are constantly thinking about the best way to perform on stage for our fans. We demand a lot of ourselves and we can't wait to see all the Blackjacks."
2NE1, March 22, 8pm, AsiaWorld-Expo, Lantau, HK$480-HK$1,480, HK Ticketing. Inquiries: 3128 8288