A Rare Look Behind the Scenes: On Alex, DR Music, The Past, Present and Future of Rania/BP Rania
Next to management, and the members themselves, no one knows more about the inner workings of BP Rania than the passionate and caring admins that run their fanbase social media. Although there are a couple floating around, none is more popular, knowledgeable, and supportive of every single one of the members of Rania/BP Rania than the admins that run @A1STSherlock.
Given the sensitivity of the recent situation with the decision by management to release Alex Reid from the group, we here at GoodMoMusic thought it best to gain clarity from a knowledgeable and informed third party than from her directly (even though we’ve previously worked directly with Alex). And, the admins of @A1STSherlock willinglingy and graciously obliged us.
This is their insight into BP Rania, Rania before them, DR Music, Alex debut, her tenure, and her untimely exit from the group.
Introduce urself and describe ur role/relationship with BP Rania/Rania
Diamond: Hello I am ◇ admin, I am a BP RaNia fan since 2014.
Star: Hi I’m ⭐️ admin, I’ve been a fan of RaNia since Demonstrate and now I’m managing one fanpage @A1STSherlock and one fanbase @A1STSherlockFR with my co-admins
Hanna: Hi my name is Hanna. I am a BP Rania fan since Demonstrate
Chokai: Hello I’m @chokaipop an ex admin on the fanacccount @A1stsherlock and @A1stsherlockfr
As the more prominent mouthpiece for their fanbase, on @A1STSherlock, how has BPRania/Rania changed over the years?
Diamond: BP RaNia has become more girl crush focused than sexy as they’ve progressed. They’ve mainly stayed in the girl crush/sexy concept since debut
Star: Well I also think they changed [their] image. BP RaNia is more public friendly than RaNia, probably because of their goofy personalities haha. The main advantage of groups from tiny companies is that they are more accessible, so debuting them with such a cold & tough image wasn’t probably the best idea 😅. I’m glad they changed their “aura.”
Musically they didn’t change. They never were really consistent in terms of music kinds, and I’m pretty sure they almost tried every style possible!
The only thing I regret is how their choreographies have deteriorated through the years. The former choreographer used to be good, but with time she started to get repetitive while the new one is still a bit lacking.
Last but not least in term of skills…well… I must admit they are is a huge gap between the old and the new line up, however I blame a part of it on the management: Reccurent changes in choreographies, lack of vocal training, having the members sing out of their range,… All of this clearly doesn’t help to mesure their skills.
What does A1ST mean?
Diamond: A1ST means Asia No.1 Sexy/Style Team
Star: It’s “Sexy/Shine Team RaNia Supporter” not “Sexy/Style Team” dummy! But knowing our fandom I think it should stand for “Always 1st at Scamming, Slaying, Shouting & Swearing Team” lol
Can you give us a brief history of BP Rania/Rania?
Chokai: Rania have been one of the first girl groups that did a sexy concept in Kpop. They have been known for being fierce and chic in 2011. But, more cute in 2017 .
Star: Yeah, they are the little sisters of Baby V.O.X one of the most prominent K-Pop girl groups in the 1990s and early 2000s. That group had a really strong aura and a sexy concept. So since day one, RaNia were expected to be as scandalous as their seniors, which was the case! They made a lot of noise at their debuts (they even got into a scandal with EXO), but didn’t make huge sales. As years passed more and more problems arose (management or just bad luck), and we ended up with the current line up…
Diamond: BP RaNia started out as the 3rd generation of Baby Vox. DR Music scrapped that, and decided to debut them as RaNia. The members auditioned for 3rd generation Baby Vox. They debuted with originally 8 members, but 8th and Chinese member Yijo never officially debuted, but did take DR Feel Good photos.
The 7 member lineup consisting of Xia Di, T-ae, Jooyi, Saem, Riko, and Joy, debuted on August 7th 2011 with DR Feel Good a song intended for Lady Gaga. It was created by Teddy Riley. They came back with Masquerade, another song made by Teddy Riley, and then Pop Pop Pop a song made by Bravesound.
Joy left the group due to a flood in Thailand where she and her family are from. RaNia performed as 6 members even performing Killer at Dream Concert. RaNia partnered with YG who was impressed with them and released Style, Jooyi was not in this comeback as she focused on solo activities. Then Riko left to focus on school, and RaNia came back as 5 for Just Go. Then RaNia went into a hiatus of comebacks, while still performing at events, they did not make a comeback. Saem left and trainee Sharon came in, later on Jooyi left and trainee Hyeme joined. Sharon then left and it was revealed in August of 2015 that trainee Seulji had joined the group.
In November of 2015 it was revealed that RaNia would be making a comeback with Hyeme and Seulji officially becoming a member. A day before the teaser came out it was revealed that Alexandra would join the group for the promotions of Demonstrate becoming the first idol of African American descent, and not being of Asian descent.
Because of her last minute addition Alexandra wasn’t able to learn the Demonstrate choreography fully. But it was revealed that Alexandra would be in the next comeback fully. The comeback was delayed from January to April. It was then delayed more when Xia, Di, and T-ae left RaNia and formed their own group ela8te. It was revealed that the comeback track would be Make Me Ahh with the album also including songs Killer Remix, and Anyone.
In June of 2016 trainees Jieun (formerly of LPG), Jian, and Crystal performed alongside the group. Alex was in America with visa issues. The comeback was moved for August but was delayed a bit for unknown reasons. The 6 members took profile photos for their eventual comeback. But that was scrapped when Jian left the group. DR then searched for more trainees, at one point having 7 including Jieun and Crystal and eventual member Ttabo and possibly Yumin.
In October of 2016 RaNia performed alongside 2 new trainees Ttabo and Hyeonji, which revealed that Crystal had left the group. In November of 2016 Alex performed at W Concert a hip hop concert. It was revealed by Ttabo’s weibo that the members went to support her. Trainee HaeRi came along. In December of 2016 the first teaser for their comeback was revealed. The comeback track was now Start A Fire and the group was renamed to BP RaNia.
The lineup became: Alexandra, Seulji now known as Zi.U, Hyeme, Jieun, Yumin, Ttabo and Yina. Saem returned to the group as Yina, the name she used in her activities after she left RaNia. Alex was not fully in the dance for Start A Fire for unknown reasons.
BP RaNia would comeback with Make Me Ahh,. With fans and their partners pushing DR Music, Alexandra was fully incorporated into Make Me Ahh, which debuted on Feburary 14th 2017.
Alexandra received love calls to shoot a movie which was a biopic of Bobby Kristina, Alex’s bestfriend and daughter of Whitney Houston. BP RaNia promoted as 6 until June 2017 when Yina left BP RaNia and released a thank you letter to the members and fans.
In August of 2017 the teaser of Beep Beep Beep was released with Alexandra included. It was revealed that they would perform busking events. Alexandra was not fully incorporated into the performances.
In mid August it was revealed that Alexandra had left BP RaNia, and that the group would perform as 5. Now BP RaNia is expected to promote Breathe Heavy 2 weeks after Beep Beep Beep promotions end.
Take us back to November, 2015, when Alex was introduced as a member of Rania. What was your first impression of her? You thoughts, concerns, and hopes, at that time ?
Diamond: I was already excited for the comeback. When Alex was revealed I was confused if she was fully joining the lineup or for just the comeback.
Chokai: I was so happy, it was during this time that I knew Rania! She was the first black girl on a Kpop girl group!
Star: At the time I didn’t really know RaNia, since I used to be a huge slut-shamer (my terrible dark past) I hadn’t listened to that kind of group in ages. But fortunately since I had matured in between, I decided to give it a go and to listen to their previous songs. I ended up liking them and started to wait for Alex’s debut with apprehension.
You see in Korea a lot of people still believe in racist stereotypes concerning black people, and I didn’t want Alex to be someone that would reinforce those horrible clichés. I was scared that she might be a koreaboo, a bad person or just someone who wanted to benefit from the Hallyu wave without caring about anything else. But she wasn’t like that at all! She was interested in the Korean culture, respected it and was a hard worker. As a black girl it made me so happy! Alongside Sam Okyere, we finally had another black person to show how awesome we are to Koreans!
What would you say Alex’s influence has been to BP Rania/Rania, especially with regards to their fanbase since then?
Chokai: She attracted a foreigner fanbase!
Star: Oh yes she did! People tend to think that she only brought fake fans, but that’s not true. I mean, aren’t we one of the best examples? The true fans that appeared, thanks to her became one of the most loyal fans I’ve ever seen. As for the fans that were already there, or those who had left, she brought them back. Not because she was black or anything, but because she appeared like the symbole of a new begining for the group. Everyone was thinking “Maybe this is finally the era of RaNia”. We were all excited and we all had high expectations.
Was their agency, DR Music surprised by how much she developed a fervent and vocal international fan base?
Chokai: I don’t think so, I think they knew exactly what they were doing!
Diamond: I’m not sure how DR responded to her fanbase. She had a good amount of fans before her debut.
Star: I agree with my co admins. Yes, they knew that she would bring attention to the group. However, they didn’t think she would gain such a loyal & influencal fandom. Because from what people who worked with them said, DR didn’t seem to realise how numerous were her agkae, and how much A1ST loved her. You just need to look at how they treated her. It’s clear that they didn’t understand the importance of her presence in the group.
Who are the influential people in BP Rania and DR Music, and what are their roles? Such as Phillip? Mr. Yoon? His father? Ingenio Media? Candy?
Diamond: Mr. Yoon is the CEO of DR Music. Philip is his son and a manager of BP RaNia since Start A Fire. He was Alex’s personal manager, because he knew English. Ingenio worked with DR and made songs and distributed the albums. In 2017 they would pitch plans to DR. So far the only plan that went through was Make Me Ahh including the entire lineup. Candy has no influence to DR, I don’t think the fanbases have any influence.
Star: I agree on everything except on the last part. Candy used to be the only link DR Music had between them and the fans. So, she was able to make them believe what was SHE was saying was what the international fandom wanted. RaNia being a group supposed to debut in the US, her voice mattered a lot.
Fanbases might not have a huge influence anymore, but DR used to listen to what we were saying: The busking performances, the return on VLive, PangPangTv, all those things were what fans requested. They even allowed us to change the fandom color (even if they never official released it). And, also showed interest in the goodies created by the fans. The thing is that as time passed they stopped answering, and only picked up what interested them (so only the non-Alex related stuff). I’m pretty sure that’s how their relationship with the fans started to worsen again.
What was managements original rational and goals for recruiting Alex? Is it as fans suspected, as a marketing gimmick? Was that why it seemed they never fully committed to her as a full, fledged member of the group?
Chokai: I think so. The fact that they never included her on choreo, even when she knew every step, say a lot!
Star: She was clearly a marketing gimmick since the beginning. “A black female rapper (when Alex is mostly a singer) signed under a prestigious American label becomes the first afro american idol.” That’s the perfect headline. They wanted to bring attention to the group and it worked. Their song Demonstrate did well
Later on with the departure of the most popular members they changed their mind. Since the “we have the first afro-american kpop idol” effect wasn’t helping them to get headlines anymore, they changed their marketing tactique. They tried to present Alex as an exotic feature. All they needed was to give her solo performances, to have her rap only in english and to not let her dance. Like this she looked like the perfect fancy/costly featuring, which is not something every group can afford. Maybe they were trying to give RaNia a prestigious image???
Diamond: I think at first they wanted to mediaplay her addition. Any company would. SM or YG or JYP would’ve mediaplayed her addition. It would’ve gotten attention even if they didn’t mediaplay it.
In your opinion, why did DR Music refuse to include Alex in any of the full choreography, except just once for “Make Me Ah” on MCountdown.
Diamond: Alex was included in the entire Make Me Ahh promotions. I think DR didn’t know how to work around her visa problems and giving her enough time to practice and be in the comeback.
Chokai: In my opinions, dr music included Alex on Make me aah because they were many petition for Alex to be fully in a choreo. Many people that weren’t inside the A1st fanbase participated. I think they were really scared of their image .
Star: Hmm DR Music don’t seem to care about what the fans think. However they are afraid of 2 things: their public image and losing money. All those articles clearly helped us to pressure them to let Alex dance, but INGENIOMedia clearly gave the last straw. They treatened DR Music and fought along side the fans. They were clearly a huge support in this entire story, we won’t ever thank them enough.
Can you give us any insight into Alex’s relationship with the other members, especially the veterans? And, how do u think that has changed with each new comeback?
Diamond: Alex is close to the members. They all talk in a group chat together. She got especially close with Yina. They figured out that they both love basketball.
Star: I don’t think she was that close to Di, T-ae or Xia, because of the language barrier, which was a huge problem. They were even rumors that they disliked each other. But, I don’t think that was the case.
Despite not speaking their language, she became close to Hyeme, and Ttabo. But the most well known friendship is of course the one with Zi.U (the Alezi/Seulex couple) haha! I also think that if Yina had stayed longer she could have become even closer to Alex, and she could have helped her and Yumin to become friends.
So yeah, globally she was in good terms with everyone. Sadly the fact that she was excluded all the time probably made things awkward between all of them. You just need to compare the energy and [chemistry] between all of them during the Make Me Ah vs during the Beep Beep Beep eras.
What about with management?
Diamond: I’m not sure about Alex’s relationship with the management. She was close with Johnny when he was manager for BP RaNia, and she went grocery shopping with Samho.
Star: Pretty sure she didn’t got along with them at all, lol. There was clearly a will to make her feel unwanted. Plus she would only get 50% of the information that the others members would get when she was the leader (like how was she supposed to work and assume her role ?).
I don’t remember her realtionship with the female manager (she left too early, I think that might be because she kept spilling things to Candy). And, I’m not sure that she was really friendly with SamHo, but she is really close to Johnny! Before leaving he was the favourite manager of the fans because of how friendly and caring he was with all the members. I don’t think she was close to the stylist and the first choreographer. I mean, I don’t think I need to explain why after what happened…
Given the recent announcement by the DR Music management on the removal of Alex as a member of BP Rania, on August 19, after she wasn’t included in any of the Beep Beep Beep TV stage promotions. In your opinion, what led to this decision?
Diamond: I think it was a mutual agreement that both sides got tired of the situation, Alex being less tired though.
Chokai: They obviously wanted to kick her out of BPrania
Star: And they managed by treating her poorly. There is a limit to how much a person can take, you know ?
It seems there was some hesitation to include Alex in the Beep Beep Beep comeback? Given, how they first did busking promotions with Alex, before TV stage promos without her? (Also, on June 19, the BP Rania page on Facebook posted a picture of the group without Alex. Then it seems after a fan complained in the comments, they posted a second picture, this time with Alex sort of photoshopped in.)
Star: Actually Alex was totally included in the photoshoot of Beep Beep Beep because fans complained and panicked after seeing the members filming what looked like a MV without Alex (once again). She arrived a few days after and they shot the official pictures.
Later on, [they] started the busking promotions where Alex was not totally included. She was even taken out of the choreographies she knew and forced to stay in a corner of the stage. As if it was enough, we learnt that the choreography requested by DR Music was made for 5 people… Days later started the Tv stage promos and she wasn’t there at all.
If they had visa issues, they could have sent her videos of the choreography. But, no. Instead they deleted her intro rap, re-recorded her part with the voice of her fellow member, Ttabo. And tried to not bring her back to Korea.
There wasn’t any hesitation, since the begining they didn’t want to include Alex in this comeback. Which is weird, because from what I heard stuff were ready for Breathe Heavy, [and] they even had a 6 members choreography…
Of course those are only rumors, but with DR Music so who knows ?
In the statement released what do you think they meant by “Being on stages with what kind of songs, what choreography could not be decided only by the company, indeed.”?
Diamond: I’m not 100% sure on that.
Regardless of translation, it seems to imply there was a third party other than DR Music and Rania, involved in their comeback stages and choreography.
Star: I remember insiders telling us that it wasn’t DR MUSIC’s fault, but I dont get how that couldn’t be the case ?…
Diamond: I would think that the third party was one of their partners or their choreographers. At least that’s what they’re implying.
Did the extended hiatus of Alex, earlier this year, while the other members continued promotion on Make Me Ah, contribute to their decision for her to leave? Our impression of the hiatus, was that it was a mutual decision.
Diamond: Alex left to film a movie, it was mutual agreement.
Star: The problem is that the agreement was that she would film the movie and come back, not to leave and never come back. In my opinion, the fact that she was forced to stay in the US while her fellow members were working probably made her feel guilty and contributed to her definitly leaving RaNia.
Did her fans constant vocal opinions of DR Music’s shortcomings contribute to this? And, if so, isn’t that somewhat unfair, and a double standard? We’ve seen situations where kpop fans have been vocal enough to affect management decisions. such as recently when one of Super Junior members had to be excluded from their comeback plans, because of fans displeasure with some of his life-decisions.
Diamond: It contributed to her being fully added to Make Me Ahh.
Star: It’s not just her fans that fought for her. A1ST as a whole fought for her to be fully integrated. And, yes that’s how we obtained her being in Make Me Ah and in the photoshoot of Beep Beep Beep. Being vocal was never a bad decision. Deciding to start the boycott before the promotion, was one. We should have done it early, when it was still possible to change things.
Diamond: Some anti fans were vocal about Alex being kicked out, that might’ve affected their decision.
Star: That’s how the kpop industry is. In general the fans that pay the most are the ones whose opinion matter. Funnily, Dr Music didn’t seem to think that the opinion of any fan mattered at all.
We read some DM tweets from @A1STCentral to “HD,” where she/he made statements like “DR Music… are done with Alex…. Dr Music already know I support their actions… especially after all that I stated in my emails to them.” And “Alex needs to go. Her and her fans.”? Can you shed some light on these DM messages? And, what is this person’s role/influence in DR Music?
Diamond: Candy was a RaNia fanbase, she was one of the first ones. From my knowledge she has no power or influence in DR Music.
Star: She’s basically asking to kick out Alex, nothing new. She has always tried to kick out members. She used to hate Hyeme too, and now her current target is Yumin. She’s a sasaeng turned anti. Candy is a person whose life is probably so boring and so unsuccessful that she project her own life into other people’s. She must think that since put her energy and her time in groups, they belong to her and should obey to her since she’s the only one who knows how to manage them. I guess that’s why she’s being over-controling with kpop groups. That would also explain why she only attacks nugu groups (Kiss&Cry, Wa$$up, JJCC,…) they are easy targets.
I do think she had at some point some influence on Dr Music. The problem is that she’s so delusional that it’s hard to separate the truth from her dreams.
People showed her numerous time that she lied on some stuffs but she never acknowledged it.
I hope one day she’ll really realise how bad she acted & apologise publicly.
It’s true that people deserve a second chance, but they must show that they are worthy of it first.
Do you have any knowledge of the reaction or feelings of the remaining members on this decision?
Diamond: I believe that they’re cheering Alex on her next activities. Zi.U’s mom sent Alex a tweet telling her thank you and that she’ll continue to cheer her on.
Star: To me they all looked devasted, you just need to see all the Vlives they did when she was still here. They were all uncomfortable and looked so angry.
Does this decision hurt BP Rania moving forward?
Hanna: Of course. Its gonna hurt. Its never amazing to lose a member you grow up with in the last 2years. Alex became very close with the members, and I am sure they saw them as their sister. So how would you feel losing a friend, a member, and a sister at the same time ?
Chokai: I think it will hurt BP Rania a lot since Alex attracted the intl fanbase. Now that she’s gone, half of the fandom is gone with her .
Star: Clearly this wasn’t a good decision. International kpop fans (who are not A1ST) won’t want to stan or even to pay attention to the group before a while, their reputation is too bad.
They might have a chance in Korea though. If they succed there, international fans will probably comeback. But they would need to suddenly gain fame like EXID.
It appears they will continue to promote, as before with 5 members. Will DR Music recruit a new member to fill Alex’s shoes? And, do you think they will try again, with a non-Asian member?
Chokai: I don’t think so , I really think dr music always wanted an all Asian Kpop girlgroup.
Hanna: I dont think DR Will ever try to put a non Asian member ever again in Rania. They know what they have done, and they know that they could do better when Alex was stil a part of Rania. So, why would they even try someone else just to lose their luck. No.
Diamond: DR may have wanted to add a non-Asian member with the RaNia World Auditions, and at one point having a Brazilian trainee. I believe they will stay as 5 members for the foreseeable future.
Star: Honestly? I don’t know at all. But I can see them getting once again a latina trainee to gain some fans in South America, or just a white one to creat some noise around the group.
She’s probably the best person to ask, but do you think Alex will continue on in kpop?
Hanna: I dont even know if she wanna do something with Kpop. Its her OWN choice and I will support her with Everthing I have.
Chokai: Idk, maybe but this experience may have traumatized her …
Star: As a solo? Totally! I can see her doing like Jay Park switching from Korea to America. But yeah, not in a group anymore (even if I pray that she’ll join ALIAS)…..
Diamond: Only time will tell.
Do you have any additional thoughts or opinions on this seemingly unfortunate situation?
Star: DR Music should have listened to INGENIOMedia. I understand that listening to the fans can seem stupid for a compagny, but listening to your business partner, and communicating with them is the key to sucess. IGM is a younger company, yet they were way more experienced when it came to managing the group. So, I wish them all the luck with ALIAS.
As for RaNia. I don’t know what’s going to happen to them. Sometimes it seems like DR MUSIC don’t want to manage a group anymore. And other times, it looks like they suddenly remembered that their money came from them.
I hope things will get better for them…
On another note I’d like to use this as an opportunity to thank you on the behalf of the entire team. It’s really nice to listen to our side of the story 😊
Should Kpop make an active effort to debut and integrate non-Asians?
And, given its global influence, as well as the economic gains from non-Asians, is its current state healthy? Or, is a little less homogeneity just simply the right thing to do?
Diamond: I believe they should make an active effort to debut and integrate non-Asians, little by little.
Chokai: I’m not against the fact of the lack of foreigner idols in kpop, but the fact that they are appropriating black culture but still doing racist things irritate me. I want at least some mixed ( Black and Korean) idols that will talk about this issue .
Star: The kpop industry is like a safe zone for asian artists. They can finally escape the image western countries gave them, that is “if you’re Asian you can’t be cool, sexy, hot…” So given it’s rising global influence, we should leave it to asian people. Because it’s a good way to change the image we have of them in the west.
However, the problem is that the kpop industry takes from other cultures (black, indian, arab,…) while never giving back. Sometimes idols even use it inappropriately or make racist remarks. Why? Because the industry is way too homogeneous! They don’t have anyone to tell them why they can’t use the gayatri mantra, the Quran or do blackface.
Also all the people whose culture is being used, aren’t gaining anything in exchange. And, that isn’t fair. That’s why I think we need to have more non-asian idols, who also are people of colors.
Given Alex’s status as the first African-American member of a k-pop group, will her experience reduce the chances of us seeing another “black girl” in K-pop any time soon?
Chokai: NO! I think she opened many door, that many label want to do this too. But, the fact that this is a small label like dr music…Let biggers label do the same!
Hanna: Alex influence has been for non-asians that everyone can be what they want. If you wanna be a Kpop idol, but you’re white or black, you just need to fight for it. Alex opened soooo many doors for us to see that everthing is possible and I am sure the fans think the same.
Star: The door was already open, remember Olivia from The Gloss. However Alex literally knocked it down.
We will see in the future more groups include non-asians:
SM entertainement is working on a kpop academy only for foreigners, and with NCT they are planning on creating the worlwide version of AKB48.
Diamond: I think we may see more in the future. Everything starts off hard at first. Chinese members of groups at one point weren’t allowed on stage, and were made to were masks when they did.
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