Camo released the song “Freak Like Me” about two weeks ago, so I thought it would be nice to write about her. I remember the first time I heard her voice. I was listening to “Baby” by DJ ROOTS featuring her and Jung Jin Hyung (정진형). The melodic instrumental reminded me of a music box. It highlights Camo’s rap-singing and Jung Ji Hyeong’s vocals. I was like, “hum, who is she?” I did some research, and the rest is history.
CAMO is a South Korean rapper born on April 29, 1998. Her birth name is Park Chaeryeong (박채련). She grew up in Hong Kong until her early teens when she and her family moved to South Korea. The rapper made her debut in March of 2020 with her EP ICE. Her stage name is derived from “CAsh MOney”.
Camo is known for her rap-singing and her unique use of the autotune. It has been less than two years since her debut, but she has already collaborated with many artists such as Simon Dominic, GEMINI, TRADE L, and JMIN. To date, Camo has released two Eps (ICE in 2020 and Fragile the following year).
The rapper is not shy in emphasizing her assets and remains unapologetic about embracing her sexuality:
- Got a dolly face and body (“Dollar Bratz”);
- Feeling like a pretty hoe (“Dollar Bratz”);
- Yeah, you make me wet (“Life Is Wet”);
- Wanna start my day with you moaning (“빽도 Backdoor”);
- Yeah, come outside put yo dick on me / Don’t you ever take your both hands off of me (“Freak Like Me”).
She’s not one of my favorite lyricists, but she has the merit of writing her own songs. To paraphrase Nicki Minaj’s speech, “when you hear Camo spit, Camo wrote it.” What I like the most about her writing style is the way she portrays herself. Yes, she’s a badass that oozes s€x appeal, but sometimes she’s also vulnerable and indecisive, and she keeps contradicting herself. She’s not always a confident wonder woman.
When you’re attractive, people tend to forget that you actually have feelings. And this is SO FRUSTRATING! To be honest, I enjoy listening to Camo breaking down stereotypes. Like in the chorus of “Wifey”, when she raps:
But he only thinks that I’m a hoe
Does he know I got a hole
Deep down my soul
Camo is more than a “dollar Bratz”, more than a curvy body. All people have to do is to pay attention, and they will see it as well.
In the verse 1 of “애초에사랑하지말자 (Fragile)”, Camo says:
난 계속 도망가려 해
근데 날 꼭 잡아주는 사람이 너였음 해
I keep trying to run away
But I want you to be the one who catches me
Sometimes when women run away from a relationship, it is to protect themselves. Nobody wants to get hurt. Commitment issues are real! It is not always about “playing hard to get”.
An eye-catching cover more subtle than you think
Camo released her new track “Freak Like Me” on January 14.
People say, “Never judge a book by its cover.” I agree, but this time that’s exactly what we gonna do. I grew up in the CD era, and to this day, I pay close attention to the single/album cover art. To me, a relevant single cover is like a movie trailer. So before we talk about the song, let’s analyze its single cover.
Joyce Lee made the covert art. If you’re curious about her work, here’s her Instagram: joyceartworks
The drawing shows a young woman (CAMO) skiing in a two-piece swimsuit. At the top of the image, there’s a blue sky on which we can read “Freak Like Me”. The landscape may refer to the lyrics:
- Jet ski no companies just the two of us (verse 1)
- Swish, swish, swish, fast like a jet ski (outro)
The rapper is emphasized in several ways. First, Camo is in the foreground and occupies two-thirds of the picture in height (image composition).
Secondly, her bikini contrasts with the winter weather and highlights her attractive body (hot/cold visual oxymoron). It’s provocative, but this might symbolize her desire to break the codes. As a female rapper, expressing her sexuality so frankly is quite new in South Korea. In my opinion, the cover shows her in a strong position. She’s asserting her body and freedom of speech.
Lastly, her skin color and pink swimsuit contrast with the shades of white used for the snow, the mountains, and the mist (color contrast). Did you know that Polka dot clothing was widely worn by pin-ups in the 20th century? It represented women’s sensuality and charisma. Then, after World War II, it also became the symbol of their freedom. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Camo is portrayed wearing this swimsuit model.
- her hair floating in the wind suggests sensuality;
- the strings of her bikini top floating in the wind suggest eroticism;
- the tassel of her swimsuit looks like a rabbit tail. A bunny tail on a sexy woman…How can you not think about playmates?
It’s all about desire and confidence. The cover seems to scream, “I know you want a freak like me.”
Now let’s take a closer look at the song.
“Freak Like Me”: crazy life and self-confidence
“Freak Like Me” is a melodic hip-hop track with a repetitive yet catchy chorus. The song is produced by Dayrick. It’s not their first collaboration. Dayrick is the producer of her songs “빽도 (Backdoor)” and “애초에사랑하지말자 (Fragile)”; he’s also the mastering engineer of “Wifey”.
The music video was shot in Paris and London. We can see her performing on stage during Paris Got Seoul and London Got Seoul events. We can also see her walking down the streets and chilling in tourist places like the entrance to the Louvre Museum.
Runnin round Paris 찍고 London (verse 2)
[Runnin round Paris and London for photo shoots]
Camo sets the tone from the first verse: Fast foreign ridah / Call me your highness. She’s living la vida loca and takes pride in her lifestyle. Luxury brands are indicators of social and economic success, but they also boost her confidence:
든든해 with my bands on
Bling bling icy neck with a thong on
High up on the moon like 매번
I feel confident with my bands on
Bling bling icy neck with a thong on
High up on the moon like always
Camo knows what she wants:
- We deserve a good massage (post-chorus);
- I’ve been ready since I saw you just across the street (verse 2).
The use of imperative sentences makes her seem powerful and strong-minded:
Call me your highness
빨리 와서 take these off of me
[Hurry up, come take these off of me]
Yeah, come outside put yo dick on me
Don’t you ever take your both hands off of me
Camo is well aware of her attractiveness and doesn’t act shy around men. The song starts with the chorus: I know you want a freak like me (x4). It reminds me of “I’m Good”: Bet you’re looking for a girl just like me. However, she’s not only a s€xual freak. Camo can act crazy when she got played by a man:
Do me wrong I’ll pull up on your bestie
And you know your bitch nasty
Last year, during an interview with Liana Weeks, Camo expressed her desire to try different music styles and change society through her voice and music. To me, she doesn’t have time for unnecessary drama. That’s why she says:
계획에 없던 너를 만나고
You’re the first I never wanna let go
Meeting you was not in my plans
You’re the first I never wanna let go
I think the plan was to avoid any romance to stay focused. It echoes the chorus of “애초에사랑하지말자 (Fragile)”:
그래 애초에 우리 사랑하지 말자
근데 이미 난 널 사랑하는게 맞아
Let’s not love each other in the first place
But I’m already in love with you
To conclude, Camo is the brain, the beauty, and the beast because she’s more than a pretty face. She’s ambitious and not afraid to fight to make a place for herself in this predominantly male industry.