In the ever-evolving world of k-pop, it’s difficult to present a concept that feels truly unique. Yezi’s girl group Fiestar is a good example of this, careening from cute to sexy to quirky in all the expected ways (and providing some fantastic pop songs in the process). But while Fiestar hasn’t allowed Yezi much spotlight for her skills as a rapper, her solo work often presents an inventive transformation. Last year’s Cider was an appetizing taster, but the unhinged Anck Su Namum (아낙수나문) blows her sound wide open.
Anck Su Namum is the name of an Egyptian queen, and also a femme fatale type character from the Mummy movie franchise. As k-pop references go, this is about as obscure and specific as it gets. Yezi takes this theme and runs with it, offering an image that feels fresh and engrossing. The song itself follows suit, opening with a burst of rumbling bass and middle eastern instrumental influences. The first verse flies by on her spitfire performance, though doesn’t yet break the norms of this aggressive rap sub-genre. It actually sounds like something CL might have released before she became intent on breaking America.
This sense of familiarity ruptures the moment the instrumental collapses and the song’s droning, otherworldly hook takes hold. In many ways, this particular arrangement goes against everything I love in a pop song, but Anck Su Namum is the exception. The low-toned chanting at its core has a fantastical, hypnotic quality, further heightened as the snare beat fills back in with tense relentlessness. It’s incredibly cinematic — and surprisingly compelling. The remainder of the track continues this experimental bent, shifting tempos and sounds like the swirling of desert sand. The last minute is especially crazed, with all of the song’s elements thrown towards the listener at once in a dizzying display of aural fireworks. This feels new — and in 2017, that’s a rarity.