Since its release last summer, Jessi’s Nunu Nana has grown on me immensely. And, I suspect I’m not alone. After all, the song became a huge 2020 hit, and recemented her as the queen of K-pop attitude. It remains to be seen if new single What Type Of X (어떤X) will enjoy the same successful trajectory, but Jessi has outdone herself with an even stronger follow-up.
Rock and hip-hop have always been a match made in heaven, and much of What Type Of X reminds me of Rick Rubin’s production on classics from artists like Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Jay-Z. Something about the charisma and forcefulness of a rapper, combined with the unrelenting power of electric guitar, makes for stunning tracks. What Type Of X is wise to frame itself within this context. Not only does it match Jessi surprisingly well, but it sets the song apart from anything she’s done before.
What Type Of X’s verses bring a jolt of melody to the song, but are always delivered with a hip-hop edge. To my ears, the “I can see it in your eyes” hook interpolates an older (90’s?) song that I can’t quite place. Hopefully someone will be able to recognize it, but either way it makes for a great bookend to tie these verses together.
Like Nunu Nana, the track is built around a drop-style chorus. But, What Type Of X is a grade-A example of how to make this approach work. I’m not yet one hundred percent sold on the spiraling synth loop, but that guitar and percussion make for a thrilling centerpiece. Jessi’s ferocious presence ties it all together, and keeps the track moving in unrelenting fashion. However, the moment that truly vaults What Type Of X above the pack doesn’t arrive until its finale. The song climaxes in a heavy assault of guitar and synth as Jessi’s vocal transitions to a cathartic chant. It’s a knockout flourish that makes What Type Of X one of 2021’s biggest and best surprises.