It’s been two-and-a-half years since Kahi made her solo debut and just over a year since she officially left After School. Since stepping away from the popular girl group, she’s done some acting and variety show work, but her music career’s been in limbo following repeated delays from Pledis Entertainment. It was starting to look like Pledis might just scrap everything altogether, but this week Kahi finally came back with a new album, Who Are You?, and I’m happy to say that it was definitely worth the wait.
I thought Seo In Young had the coolest K-diva single of 2013, but Kahi may have just outdone her with “It’s Me.” It’s like somebody took the classy tango-pop from Ga-In’s Step 2/4 album and remixed it with a hip-hop beat. Excess is everything in K-pop, so “It’s Me” is also littered with early ’80s synthesizers and then topped off with a super obnoxious brostep drop and rap break from a dude named Dumbfoundead. I’m trying to convince myself that the dubstep is so gaudy and unnecessary that it’s flawless in a kind of ironic way, but the truth is that Kahi should’ve really made a breakdown out of something else — anything else. More wonderfully weird synths would’ve sufficed, or she could’ve just stolen the same tango break from Sunmi’s “24 Hours” and slayed it.
Still, even all that trashy wizzing and whirring can’t turn me off “It’s Me.” The official music video sees Kahi strutting around Barcelona like a fly fashionista and occasionally busting out some choreography whenever the coast is clear. It looks part Nylon photoshoot, part dance video, and part European cinema. The street scenes are intercut with a black & white Kahi dancing in an early-2000s getup of a black midriff and high-waisted slacks. You could crack a skull on her washboard abs, and her moves are seriously major.
The 32-year-old is one of the best female dancers in pop, period — a skill that’s further highlighted in her M! Countdown comeback stage. People give me shit for saying that Ciara’s dancing is overrated, but I only say that because I think she should be delivering Kahi level choreography. She’s capable of it, but unlike K-pop idols, most Western stars just don’t have the work ethic to reach their maximum potential.
Anyway, enough about CiCi. This comeback was everything to me, and I love it just as much as every other big October comeback — if not more. I’ve seen on the blogs and Twitter that a lot of people seem to be underwhelmed by it, but they must be watching a 2NE1 video or something by mistake. Kahi’s a Kween, she killed this, and not even some trashy outdated dubstep drop can take down her return.
It’s just too bad that Pledis took so long with this, and then scheduled Kahi to compete against the likes of T-ara, SHINee, Busker Busker, and IU. Seriously Pledis? Maybe the plan was to get her some extra exposure because more people will be watching the weekly music programs to see their faves, but it still feels like they did her wrong. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another three years until we see Kahi back with her next solo project.