She was a member of one of Korea’s most formidable girl groups, but now Minzy is all on her own.
A little over a year since leaving 2NE1, K-pop star Minzy released her first album Minzy Work 01 Uno on Monday. Led by dance-pop single “Ninano,” the EP reintroduces the singer as a soloist distinct from the identity she honed as the youngest member of her former act. Uno relays a story of an independent Minzy coming into her own, as the lyricist behind all six songs.
“Ninano,” featuring rapper Flowsik, plays up the singer’s renown as a talented dancer, incorporating thumping beats and muted strings to create a backtrack for the bombastic message of the song (“Whatever you expect I deliver more,” “Can’t keep up with me”), which can’t help but recall the swag of 2NE1’s hit “I Am the Best.” The song’s clapping pre-chorus and chant of the title verse — which references the same Korean folk song as G-Dragon and Missy Elliott’s 2013 collab “Niliria” — seem a bit staid after the build of the opening melody, but acts as a backdrop for Minzy’s powerful dance performance, highlighted in the accompanying music video.
While “Ninano” is an uber-danceable song ready to be played at clubs, “Superwoman” is Minzy’s autobiographical melodic house anthem about loving oneself and persevering when times are hard. Though not a single, it is the most heavily promoted track on the EP aside from “Ninano” and the singer released a special performance video, revealing the song’s fist-pumping choreography.
Uno delves into reggae-pop on “Ing” before delving into smooth, uptempo R&B on “Flashlight,” featuring Korean-American rapper Jay Park. “Beautiful Lie,” the last track on the EP aside from a version of “Ninano” featuring Flowsik rapping in English, is a sweeping power ballad that showcases Minzy’s soulful vocals, and is the first self-composed song by the singer.
After debuting as a member of 2NE1 in 2009 and rising to fame, Minzy left the group and heavyweight K-pop label YG Entertainment last year ahead of the popular act breaking up formally in November. Minzy is the first former 2NE1 member to release a solo album, although CL has released numerous singles and Sandara Park and Park Bom have discussed plans to release solo music in the future.
She has since joined The Music Works, a subsidiary label of CJ E&M Music Performance Division that houses famed solo vocalist Baek Z Young. Minzy told Yonhap that she decided to move on from YG–home of acts including BIGBANG, Epik High, and Blackpink– when her contract with the agency expired last year in order “to show a whole new level of growth in terms of music.”
Watch the music video for “Ninano” here: