Korean American musical artist Audrey Nuna breaks ground in the music industry with the release of her first album, 'a liquid breakfast'
Everything you need to know about Audrey Nuna's latest project, whether you're already a fan or a prospective new listener.
On May 21, 2021, 22-year-old Korean American R&B singer, rapper, and songwriter Audrey Chu—better known under her stage name Audrey Nuna (nuna meaning "older sibling" in Korean)—released her first project, a liquid breakfast. In a recent interview with W Magazine, Nuna describes her album as "a collection of tracks that chronicle her very personal journey toward building self-confidence, connecting with family members and her Korean-American heritage, and quite simply, growing up."
a liquid breakfast combines elements of R&B, hip-hop, trap, and electronic within its ten-song tracklist to create a varied, fascinating listening experience. The first half of her album includes songs with faster-paced, more electronic-sounding beats with rapping while she closes the second half with slower, softer vocals that more closely align with that of R&B. Her most popular single, “damn Right,” with over seven million streams on Spotify and a music video with over five million views, best exposes her rapping skills and exemplifies the up-tempo beats that characterize the first few songs off of the album. Take a listen below:
Nuna’s next hit single, “Comic Sans,” features Jack Harlow, a well-known American rapper whose song “WHAT’S POPPIN’” went viral on TikTok in 2020, garnering him over 400 million streams on Spotify. To get such a talent on her first project is no small feat, yet in an interview with Hypebae, Nuna casually mentions that she was able to recruit Harlow after “cold-email[ing] him the open verse,” which was met with positive reception from Harlow. “Comic Sans” opens with an aggressive, trap sound that returns several times throughout the song, and Nuna again displays her rapping skills and quick tongue with her fast-paced chorus. However, I felt that the chorus of the song lacked an easily distinguishable hook and thus blended in along with the verses, which unfortunately meant my attention was not easily retained throughout what I saw as a largely stagnant song.
Though Nuna may not have won me over with these singles, I absolutely loved the second half of a liquid breakfast, perhaps because I tend to gravitate more towards ‘chill’ R&B over ‘hype’ trap and electronic beats. My favorites off of the album are its last two tracks, “Top Again” featuring Saba and “Long Year.” To me, “Top Again” is the perfect song to throw on a late-night drive or vibe sesh with its catchy, head-bopping beat yet overall mellow sound. Saba’s rap verse weaves in seamlessly with Nuna’s softer vocals and elevates the song as a whole—I’d love to see the two make more music together in the future. For “Long Year,” Nuna slows it down, enchanting listeners in a spell of serenity and bliss with her soothing tones and a hypnotic melody to match. If you’re a fan of Sabrina Claudio and similar R&B artists, “Long Year” is definitely for you.
However, I would be remiss if I did not touch on "Blossom," the seventh and arguably most personal and emotional song off the album. The tail end of "Blossom" features an audio clip of her grandmother, Yangnam Gong, speaking in Korean in a touching homage to her Korean roots. Nuna explains in the aforementioned W Magazine interview that the brief audio snippet is her grandmother telling the story of fleeing from Korea during the Korean War and temporarily losing her family during the migration process. Additionally, Amazon Music's "Message in Music," a short documentary spotlighting several female AAPI artists including Nuna, shows a heartfelt moment in which Nuna plays "Blossom" for her grandmother. The two women's faces light up with radiant smiles when Gong's voice sounds out across the small bedroom in which they are situated, and Gong softly compliments Nuna's singing capabilities.
I find it powerful that Nuna was willing to get so vulnerable with her audience and weave bits and pieces of her heritage throughout the album, especially as exposure and representation of Asian American women within the music industry—especially the R&B and hip-hop genre—is so lacking.
Despite it not being a 'no-skip' album for me, a liquid breakfast still succeeds as Nuna's sustained entry into the R&B and hip-hop space by showcasing her silky R&B vocals, rap talents, and lyrical profundity. There is no doubt that she will only continue to grow and flourish within the industry from here to become a power player among the likes of Tinashe and Tierra Whack.
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