The Boys are Back in Town


The music industry is a fickle one with many acts vying for chart success and critical acclaim. The Korean music industry is dominated by the super group idols with K-pop being big business.
However there are times when individuals or groups stand out from the crowd and gain more than just chart success. One such group is Epik High.

If you’re a fan of Korean Hip Hop then I am sure that name rings a bell.

Epik High is a three piece hip hop group who debuted around 2003 with underground success. As we all know
hip hop in Korea is pretty much underground unless some acts manage to break the mainstream. Compared to its hip hop cousin it is still in the shadows.

Although some idol groups feature ‘rappers’ these are just mere ‘fill ins’ when it comes to the real business of hip hop.

The group made up of Tablo, Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz gained commercial success in 2005 with their second album titled High Society and saw them become the most popular hip hop group in South Korea.

Their albums deal with issues such as war, crime, religion and other key issues affecting modern Korean society. Of course this saw them clashing with authorities with some trying to stop their music being played.
Many people recognised their ability to deal with real life issues that everyone was dealing with.

They initially singed with Woolim Entertainment (current home of the band Nell) which was an independent company but with Tablo signing on with YG Entertainment as a solo artist it was natural that his group members would also be picked up.

2009 saw the group disband due to the military service and Tablo released solo material in September of 2011 after signing with YG Entertainment.

Tablo, a Korean-Canadian suffered harassment from an online community named Tajinyo (meaning We Demand The Truth from Tablo). They questioned his two degrees and tried to obtain evidence showing that Tablo was a liar. The situation escalated with Tablo flying back to Stanford to print his documents in front of the camera and also to get proof from academics that he was telling the truth.

Although the police proved that he had indeed obtained both a Bachelors and Master’s Degree in English and Creative Writing.

The fan site was shut down and Tablo sued the leader of the group for defamation. The group still remains and still asserts that Tablo is lying about his qualifications.

This situation caused great stress for Tablo and in his solo album Fever’s End he released most of his stress into his songs.

Member Mithra Jin was originally a poet and soon found that his poetry worked perfectly with a beat.

DJ Tukutz found his love of music via underground raves and worked in Japan’s underground hip hop scene.

He attended a DJ school in Korea and teamed up with Tablo to move to the states to work as a DJ.

What makes Epik High, well epic is the love of music that they all display. Their music is designed to be listened and understood. Furthermore they make music that is real and they are not afraid to showcase life from its ups and downs.

Their latest single which heralds their comeback is a song full of melancholy. The song features one of YGs newest artists singer Lee Hi and is titled ‘It’s Cold’. The song is about the coldness and desolation a person feels even when they have someone to keep them warm. Their suffering and isolation isn’t resolved even when the seasons change.

The beat is steady and the musical composition is simple allowing the listener to focus on what is being said (or in international fans read the lyrics). In the song the emotions are strong and there is a connection between the rappers and us the listeners. Lee His voice is soft and airy adding to the sad feeling the song gives.

Epik High could have chosen to come back with a song that had a heavy beat and bass lines showcasing their rapping ability but they chose to hit the industry with something different and fitting with the coming winter season.

They provide a welcome change to the idol saturated market and the overly electronic sound that has become prevalent.

Ladies and gentleman, lyricism has returned.

Check out their new song below:

Welcome back Epik High, we’ve missed you.

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