Thanks to her genre-bending style, multilingual songwriting talents and punky onstage persona, CL, 30, helped bridge the gap between K-pop and the American mainstream in the 2010s. In 2012, 2NE1 became the first K-pop girl group to go on a world tour, including headlining arena dates in the U.S. She’d later become a muse to designers such as Jeremy Scott and collaborate with the likes of Diplo, Skrillex, Black Eyed Peas and Lil Yachty.
“CL is one of the world’s most compelling superstars, with a diverse body of work that has kept us all wanting more and a fiercely independent spirit that’s well matched to our own,” Wendy Ong, TaP Music global co-president, said in a statement. “As a fellow Asian female leader in the music industry, I am proud and honored to welcome CL to TaP Music and look forward to helping her expand her global fanbase.”
“Me and my team Very Cherry are thrilled to partner up with TaP,” CL added, referring to the creative team behind eye-catching performances like her 2020 remote appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden. “I am super excited to share ideas with Wendy Ong and look forward to pushing boundaries together.”
Founded in 2010 by co-CEOs Ben Mawson and Ed Millett, TaP has offices in London, Los Angeles, Berlin and Sydney — “True success is international success,” Mawson told Billboard last year — and in recent years launched publishing and recording divisions. “CL is a true pioneer, not only a talented artist creating some of today’s most interesting music but she’s also a savvy businessperson,” Millet said in a statement. “I’m excited about her next chapter here at TaP.”
The journey to CL’s debut album has been closely followed by fans over the years. In 2014, she began working with Scooter Braun on her solo career, with co-management by YG, in a bid to capitalize on her global appeal. But in the subsequent years, her musical output slowed to a near halt, and she left the SB Projects roster in 2018 — only to return in early 2020 as an independent artist after parting ways with YG the previous year.
In a January 2021 issue of Billboard, CL opened up about the behind-the-scenes changes. “I don’t think anyone was trying to hold me back. I think it was the opposite. Everyone was excited. But no one knew what to do,” she said. “It’s not one thing. It’s nobody’s ‘fault,’ it’s just whatever happens, happens. And I learned the best way is to just really learn from it.”
Prior to ALPHA, CL (real name: Lee Chaelin) reintroduced herself with the six-song project In the Name of Love in late 2019. On ALPHA, she once again showcases a chameleonic skillset, freely mixing Korean and English and moving between rapping and singing over tracks that range from explosive hip-hop to cutting-edge electro-pop.
“It’s always been CL and Chaelin, Korean and English,” CL told Billboard earlier this week. “I’m multicultural, and I have always been representing that. I think it started from who I am, and I am both [sides], so I merged the two and it became one thing. The whole message of ALPHA is CL and Chaelin finding balance.”