Reviews

Hwasa is Unapologetically Herself on Debut María EP

In 2019, after the release of Hwasa‘s monstrous debut single “Twit,” fans have been highly anticipating more solo music from the youngest Mamamoo member. Over a year later, her debut EP María has arrived.

Hwasa, along with her bandmates, has never catered to convention in the K-pop scene. The singer-songwriter has been the target of critics and online trolls throughout the years, often related to current beauty standards and body image. On her new EP and title track of the same name, she takes on her haters with her unabashedly passionate image.

“Maria,” (taken after her baptismal name) details the toll of fame on her mental health: “You all worked so hard hating, // If you knock me down, // Does that feed you,” she retorts. She doesn’t stay down for long though. The Latin-pop and trap-influenced track showcases Hwasa’s signature charisma and sensuality along with her powerful vocals.

The accompanying visual serves even more of that. The video features switches between dark, melancholic and playful imagery. The beginning scene is played out like a crime scene as she’s seen lying lifelessly in a pool surrounded by photographers and investigators. Meanwhile, another version of herself looks on in the background. Later she sits at a table with others seemingly feasting on bloody organs and other unsavory items. In one particularly striking scene, she’s crouched in the corner surrounded by sharp, dagger-like pencils symbolizing her battle with the media and netizens. The track then segues into an unexpected dance break over the bridge. As if it couldn’t get better, we get a sweet surprise cameo from her Mamamoo bandmates. Hwasa sits alone in a room before Solar, Moonbyul and Wheein come in with bright smiles and bearing gifts — a short but heartfelt reminder of their support and friendship.

The EP contains six new tracks that explore a variety of genres including dance, Latin-pop, R&B and trap. Along with “Maria,” many of the tracks were co-written and co-composed by the singer herself.

It kicks off with the emotional ballad-y intro, “Nobody else,” sung entirely in English. “Oh, Maria? // Why don’t you love yourself // There’s a thorn on your back // No one here // Nobody here,” she sings.

“Kidding” was written and produced by rapper Zico. The funky trap beat combined with straightforward lyrics delivered by the sass-queen herself make for the perfect clap-back anthem we all need in our lives.

The dramatic synth-pop “Why” is another powerful display of Hwasa’s vocals and songwriting talents. Lyrically, we can all relate to when our feelings aren’t reciprocated.

The fun and cheeky “I’m Bad Too,” features rapper DPR Live. It’s another fun track in which we endure in her dazzling charms.

The EP closes with the heart-wrenching and haunting ballad, “LMM.” You’ll never feel more delicate or fragile than when reading these lyrics that long for the past.

Hwasa has always stayed true to herself. María encapsulates her passionate image and the past few years of her life very well. Her magnetism will always keep us coming back.

Listen to Hwasa’s María now:

Featured Image: RBW Inc.