The Woman Behind EXO’s “Monster”: The Chikk Experience

Black in Kpop- Episode 1

Every K-pop fan knows the classic tracks “Monster” by EXO and “Mr. Mr. ” by Girls’ Generation. But do you know the multi-platinum singer-songwriter behind these hits?

Welcome to Black in Kpop where we highlight the most influential Black people in Korean entertainment. Today we’re highlighting Chikk, a multi-platinum songwriter, performer and gospel singer. Rodnae “Chikk” Bell was born in Delaware. Her family moved to LA when she was 10. She started singing at the young age of 4 and soon began taking vocal lessons because of her love for music.

When Bell was 11, her vocal teacher introduced her to country music. Bell immediately fell in love with the genre. Because country songs weren’t played in her house, she began to make her own. This is what sparked her interest in songwriting.

In an interview with The Conversation while discussing how she started songwriting she explained,

“I just needed to write what I heard and then my own songs just started to develop and here I was writing for all these different artists. It was all birthed because I wanted to sing and I wanted to sing that, I wanted to sing country at 11 years old. And it opened doors, and later in life, God showed me that it was a gift given to me.”

Rodnae Chikk Bell

The young talent began meeting with labels as a songwriter at only 15. Her talents were so outstanding that she caught the attention of big industry names like Chris Brown. At age 24 she signed with Harvey Mason Jr, producer and current CEO of The Recording Academy.

Once Bell signed her deal with publisher Rodney Jerkins, in 2013 she attended a 10-day writing camp in South Korea. Despite that being her first time in a foreign country working with foreign artists, she left South Korea having written two #1 hits: EXO’s “Overdose” and Girls’ Generation’s “Mr. Mr.”

Some songs you may know that Rodnae “Chikk” Bell worked on are: “Kick It” by NCT 127, “Monster” by EXO, “Why” by Taeyeon, “Red Dress” by Red Velvet and “Don’t Call Me” by SHINee.

Bell has also worked with the likes of Iggy Azalea, Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks, receiving praise from major news outlets such as Rolling Stone, CNN, and Billboard.

Though she enjoyed working in LA, Bell noted that she preferred working in South Korea because labels loved the natural element of her talent.

In an interview with The Mahogany Door Podcast, Bell explained

“I owe so much to K-pop and the culture because they embraced me more than my own people did.”

Rodnae Chikk Bell

This is because despite the several opportunities LA has to offer, she still faced gender and racial discrimination.

Despite her outstanding songwriting abilities, her true passion has always been singing. In 2017, Bell was in a car accident that left her with 4 major broken bones, putting her career on halt. This accident challenged her career path and view on life.

“I was helping people tell their story now it’s time to tell mine,” She noted.

Rodnae “Chikk” Bell now writes and performs her own songs. In 2019 she went on a life-changing street tour that allowed her to build a fanbase. You can follow Chikk on her journey here.

Sources (1) (2) (3) (4)

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