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Review: 'Unpretty Rapstar' Winner Cheetah Strikes Back With 'Star Wars' [VIDEO]

By Jeff Tobias | January 08, 2016 02:46 PM EST


Music is a time-based medium, so naturally musicians should always be living in the moment.

On her latest single "Star Wars," released Dec. 18, South Korean rapper Cheetah and winner of last year's reaity show "Unpretty Rapstar," lives that maxim to the hilt. "Star Wars" is one of the most singularly contemporary pieces of pop music in recent memory.

It's very 2015, while simultaneously being rather 2016, as well.

Born Kim Eun Young, Cheetah has been in the public consciousness since 2010 as a member of the duo Blacklist. Having recently emerged victorious on last year's "Unpretty Rapstar," a reality show of competing female MCs, she has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the Korean hip-hop scene.

When discussing this song's total grasp of the zeitgeist, the most obvious point would be the title. Whether or not J.J. Abrams had any awareness of Cheetah's song, let alone synergistic intentions, remains to be seen. Cheetah smartly slips onto the coattails of the blockbuster film franchise and who can blame her? Whatever the case may be, it's nothing if not timely.

With that out of the way, we can get down to the business of discussing the music itself. While this is short even by pop music standards, not even lasting two minutes, there's brilliance in that brevity.

Not only is the listener denied the opportunity to get bored, the short duration of "Star Wars" distills the song's excitement to its core, rather than padding it out with unnecessary digressions. It keeps the listener attentive, lucid and "in the now."

Cheetah's personality is widescreen-huge. In 2007, when she was 18, the rapper was left in a temporary coma after being hit by a bus while crossing the street. The accident left her without the abilty to sing because of her extended time using a respirator. But it's hard not to interpret the vigor and lust for life Cheetah projects in her rhymes though her fierce, uncompromising delivery as a celebration of life and her determination to persevere. The MC sounds completely unconcerned with her painful past, and unworried about our shared uncertain future. She is, in a word, present.

Her toughness has some precedent in the recent bravado displayed by Nicki Minaj, but Cheetah's flow often skids off the rails, displaying a boldness rarely exhibited by her American counterpart. While typically an unhinged delivery is anchored by rock-solid backing, the music on "Star Wars" is all over the place. Yet, somehow, it works.

While rapid-fire trap hi-hats rub shoulders with EDM "special effects," that's just the tip of the iceberg. On the verses of "Star Wars," the percussion takes on a machine gun-like quality, spraying the track with off-kilter accents. It combines the biggest trends of the past year, while sounding every bit like it's riding the wave of contemporary musicmaking that couldn't have emerged anytime other than now.

Overall, it's an impressive piece of pop music modernism.

Watch the music video for Cheetah's latest single "Star Wars" RIGHT HERE  


Jeff Tobias is a composer, musician and writer currently living in Brooklyn, New York. As of late, he has been studying arcane systems of tuning and working on his jump shot.   

Tagged :  Cheetah, Star Wars, Blacklist, Unpretty Rapstar, review, Reviews, kpop, K-Pop, korean rapper, korean rap


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