The new mixtape follows the past few years where she has gone from an unknown artist to someone firmly in the wider music conscious and critic darling. 2017 saw her really breakout with a pair of EPs and her self-titled LP. She has gone on to do some high profile remixes for Robyn, Charli XCX and others and select headline shows, including her own Elancia party. This has all led to this new mixtape that is early contender one of the albums of the year.
WHAT WE DREW plays like a celebration of life and the vibrancy that music can offer. The album weaves together music across various traditions and cultures from her own Korean-American background, to house music, quirky jazz motifs and hip-hop (globally), all wrapped up in a fun pop presentation. Yaeji said she drew on inspiration from Korean indie rock, electronica, and the hip-hop and R&B of the late ’90s and early aughts for this record.
There is plenty of club-oriented house music like on “WHEN I GROW UP” that isn’t purely functional, but subdued enough to enjoy alone. This album is about and for community, but it can still be shared online and from one spirit to the next, knowing human connection will return again.
She brings funk and groove on “SPELL 주문” that is fun and light, but the rapping adds a tougher element to it. Usually these different sounds don’t mix, but this blends together like a classic Missy Elliot track. She often seems to whisper over tracks in a mix of Korean and English, drawing you in even closer to her work.
“WAKING UP DOWN” is built around crisp and buoyant drums with her voice softly floating overtop with some subtle grinding bass. The haunting and dark “IN THE MIRROR 거울” adds something a little different with autotune and some breakbeat at the end.
Despite all of these various influences, this mixtape has an uncanny ability to remain cohesive. It is like a club night that bounces all over the place between genres and sounds, but in the end, the musical thread makes complete sense. This album should help make us all feel more connected and when we do finally emerge from our isolation, this is the feeling we will need. Her production continues to improve with charming vocals, quirky and fun beats and a variety of different sounds woven together. Yaeji’s music has so much to offer and can bring us together when we need it most.