RaNia, a K-pop group that's been around since 2011, made big news this week: There's a new member. Her name is Alex. She's black.
According to K-pop fansite MoonRok, DR Music, the management company behind the group, released a statement alongside a teaser video, declaring: "Starting from this release, female African-American rapper Alexandra will be officially joining the group." Korean culture site Soompi reports that Alex is 21 years old, hails from Kansas, and was once signed to Def Jam.
RaNia's new single, "Demonstrate," has a hot, dancey, club banger sound, thanks to Alex's fire emoji rapping. In the past, the group's had singles produced by Teddy Riley. Yes, THAT Teddy Riley, the man known as the King of New Jack Swing, the man behind Blackstreet; their awesome single, "No Diggity," was released in 1996 and is STILL scorching hot today. Riley's worked with Michael Jackson, Big Daddy Kane, Mary J. Blige and many, many more.
Which is interesting, because K-pop has a weird relationship with race. Actually, no, not race. Specifically black people. Many K-Pop groups have rappers, and telegraph an obvious love of hip-hop. For instance, CL, of 2NE1, the female rapper fans swear is the "Asian Nicki Minaj." Yet some performers, like BigBang's G-Dragon, cross the line, and find themselves accused of using black people as props and wearing ensembles that are straight-up racist.
Actually adding a black woman to a K-pop group takes the game to a whole new level. (Although, according to K-pop fan and blogger Ms. Thugbear, Alexandra isn't the first African-American member of a K-Pop group.) In any case: Fans on RaNia's Facebook page are gushing about how pretty Alex is, and when K-pop site The One Shots posted the news on Facebook, one reader called Alex a goddess, while another declared, "This damn genre just keeps getting better by the day."
RaNia hasn't released any new music since 2013. So for some people, learning that a black woman was added to a Korean group will be the first they've ever heard of RaNia. But RaNia fans—who have been waiting for a comeback—seem excited. As one fan on Tumblr put it, "the fierce queens got fiercer."