P-pop (Philippine pop) girl group YARA is the newest addition to the country’s roster of P-pop acts with the release of their debut single, “ADDA”—and they’re determined to stand out from the rest, intent on focusing on more hip hop-driven sound.

The four-piece act, composed of members Angelou Villanueva, Rocher Joyce Villa, Christa Abigael Lei, and Kimberly Natividad, formally debuted on March 10 with a press conference and showcase at the Teatrino in Greenhills, San Juan City in Metro Manila. The official music video and audio of “ADDA” went live on the same day.

A debut years in the making

While YARA is signed under Sony Music Entertainment this year, the group first started as trainees under ShowBT Philippines—the home of acts like SB19 and KAIA—in 2017.

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However, it wasn’t until 2019 that the group joined the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines (KCC)’s Pinoy Kpop Star, the Philippine finals for the Changwon K-POP World Festival held in South Korea. The grand prize winners of the Philippine leg serve as the Philippines’ representatives to the global K-pop festival. YARA clinched a spot in the grand finals under the vocal category.

The group eventually gained national attention in 2021 as the first Grand P-POP Girl Group winner for local network channel TV5’s competition program called Popinoy. To celebrate the anniversary of their win, YARA released their pre-debut single “PARA” (Stop) produced by hip hop producers Cursebox and Marlon Barnuevo.

Their pre-debut single featured a predominantly hip hop-focused track, with all members rapping throughout the song. This is a refreshing direction within the P-pop industry, which is currently dominated by the dance-pop style. A year later, they finally made their debut with Sony Music via their first single, “ADDA.”

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“We were surprised that our vision and passion for music are the same,” YARA said about their label. “After everything that we’ve gone through, we are very happy that we finally found someone with whom we are confident to work, especially with our music.”

Bridging P-pop and hip hop

The group elaborated that what convinced them to sign under a major label was not just the alignment of their passions, but Sony’s support for them pursuing hip hop as a P-pop girl group.

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In fact, all four members of YARA shared that the main reason why they predominantly create hip hop tracks is that all of them have been influenced, in one way or another, by the genre.

Kimberly Natividad, also known as Kim, shared, “For example, si Ate Rosher, fan siya ng Stray Kids, which is a hip hop boy group from Korea. Si Ate Gelou, [was] from a hip hop dance group before. At si Ate Christa, ‘di ko po in-expect na sa itsura niya na ang galing niya mag-rap, and ‘yung sa’kin po… growing up, ‘yung father ko po, hip hop fan po siya. At in-adopt ko po sa kanya ‘yung [love for] hip hop.”

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(For example, Rosher is a fan of Stray Kids, which is a hip hop boy group from Korea. Gelou was from a hip hop dance group before. And with Christa, I didn’t expect from how she looked that she could rap very well. And for me, growing up, my father was a hip hop fan. I got my love for hip hop from him.)

“Feeling ko po na confident kami na mapakita namin ang hip hop genre” (I feel that we’re confident that we can showcase the hip hop genre), she continues. Angelou Villanueva, known as Gelou, follows by saying that if they show that they’re having fun and being themselves, people will notice and appreciate their hip hop path.

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YARA were also vocal about their love for Pinoy hip hop. When the quartet was asked which local or international artist they’d want to collaborate with, they unanimously agreed on Gloc-9.

Introducing themselves to the world

Written by YARA’s very own Kim, the four chose “ADDA” as their debut single to tell the story of their group’s journey together. “ADDA” stands for “Apat Dapat, Dapat Apat” (It Should Be Four).

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“The song is about YARA, the story of YARA. The song reflects why YARA works hard to strive beyond their limitations and reach for their dreams,” they share. “YARA wants their audience to know their story and draw strength from it to conquer their own fears, and learn from YARA’s experiences.”

Both “ADDA” and “PARA” prove that the rookie group is more than ready to break the norms in the industry. It’s clear: this is just the start for them. “Unison is also present in [ADDA] to highlight that behind showcasing our individual talents, the product of our teamwork sets us apart and makes us who we are.”

Watch the music video for “ADDA” here: