African-American rapper from K-pop girl group Rania changing the face of the industry
Rania make history by adding K-pop's first black artist to their line-up
Something monumental happened in K-pop last week.
Korean girl group Rania announced via their agency DR Music that they were adding an African-American rapper, Kansas-born Alexandra Reid, to their line-up.
The 21-year-old, who was reportedly once signed to US hip-hop label Def Jam Recordings, is now officially the first black artist in K-pop, as well as K-pop's first non-Asian musician.
No one can deny that this is tremendous news - and not just for Rania's diehard fans, but the entire industry.
To a certain extent, Reid's inclusion is as significant as Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra becoming the first South Asian woman to get top billing on a US network drama (crime thriller Quantico), or Filipino singer Arnel Pineda's appointment as the frontman of legendary US rock band Journey.
K-pop has always been culturally diverse, embracing entertainers from all over Asia. There's EXO's Lay and Miss A's Fei and Jia (all from China), 2PM's Nichkhun (Thailand) and Cross Gene's Takuya (Japan).
We even have a Singaporean representative in Seoul. Remember Tasha from girl group SKarf?
But with Reid entering the fray, K-pop is truly becoming a global community. It sends a wonderful message to the world: South Korea is ready to throw its remaining self-imposed boxes of nationality and race out of the window.
Biracial Reid, with her Afro hairstyle and chestnut skin tone, is a welcome breath of fresh air in K-pop.
Already an independent singer in the US (check out her SoundCloud for solo tracks and YouTube for her bit part in Jamie Foxx's You Changed Me video), she is no showbiz greenhorn.
Her recent live performance with Rania on Korean music TV show M! Countdown was confident, polished and dynamic, definitely a sign of good things to come.
Who knows? She might very well be the group's lucky charm. Demonstrate, Rania's new single as a sextet, is easily one of their catchiest numbers in years. It's a huge pity that Reid couldn't join her teammates in time to shoot the song's music video due to visa problems.
As if to shush her detractors who think she's just a "one-time cameo" for Rania's current release, a video of Reid speaking Korean was uploaded onto Rania's Facebook page last Friday. Yes, this girl is learning the language - and is here to stay.
Entertainment is all about blurred lines. Like it or not, youngsters like Reid are crossing them in style.