6 Epik High Tracks You May Have Missed

When it comes to the Korean hip-hop scene, there are but a few names that always stand out. If you’re looking for something old-school, you can’t go wrong with some of the hip-hop greats – Epik High.

Epik High have been around on the Korean hip-hop scene for a very long time, having had a very quiet start to their career in 2003. Epik High barely need an introduction at this point, so ubiquitous is their name – not harmed by the highly regarded leader Tablo seemingly never off TV screens. As with most Korean hip-hop groups from the early 2000s, Epik High struggled for a few years before their second album ‘High Society’ took off, and the rest is history.

So now, with the launch of new label HIGHGRND, under the YG umbrella with Tablo as the head, it seems that Epik High are continuing their lofty reputation and upward trajectory. For long-time fans, HIGHGRND feels almost like a return to Epik High’s career before YG, when they set up their independent label Map The Soul Inc – which unfortunately failed in the midst of controversy in 2009-2010, as well as Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz’ military enlistment.

Epik High are a group that are a long time in settling, and as such they have a rather impressive discography throughout the last twelve years of their career – and there a lot of tracks that never quite got the love they richly deserved. All of these are tracks that I connect with in some way. It was difficult cutting down the list because of my love for Epik High. Tracks that didn’t quite make the list include My Ghetto, Love Love Love, Wannabe and Over.

Here’s a look at some Epik High tracks you may have missed:

1. Follow the Flow (feat. MYK and D-Tox)

Tailor made to get you high like skyscraper elevators.

Follow The Flow is the 13th track on Epik High’s third album Swan Songs which helped propel Epik High into popularity in 2005 due to its positive critical reception . More well-known tracks off this album include Fly and ‘Paris’, and . While Follow The Flow has a relatively naïve sound compared with some of their later tracks with a more cocky vibe, it has the same feel as the more recent Born Hater – showing that even while they span the genres, Epik High always come back home to their signature sound.

2. Nocturne

Life & death, love & sex.

Nocturne is the 11th track on the first half of Epik High’s fourth album, Remapping the Human Soul. Remapping the Human Soul was split in two due to the number of tracks – a whopping 27 -with the two halves titled ‘The Brain’ (Part 1) and ‘The Heart’ (Part 2). Featuring Fan, one of Epik High’s most well-known tracks when they were still represented by former label  Woollim Entertainment, Remapping The Human Soul was largely banned by broadcast agencies for its dark subject matter – venturing into topics like sexual crimes, religion, education, and war. Nocturne is a solo track from Tablo, and both the song and he are palpably angry. A read through the full English translation is a must.

3. Breathe (Mithra’s Word) (feat. Han Huijung)

Breathe (in), breathe (out) – it’s easy. So easy.

Breathe  is the 11th track off Epik High’s sixth album [e], released in 2009. Like Remapping the Human Soul, [e] was released in two halves with a total of 30 tracks, titled ‘[e]motion’ and ‘[e]nergy’.

Breathe, a solo track from Mithra Jin, is a slow trip through the pressures put on the youth of Korea and the paralysis of others’ expectations – in fitting with Mithra’s roots as a poet. Breathe is one of those tracks that sparks emotions of all kinds, and is one of my most highly rated and most recommended Epik High tracks.

4. Rocksteady (feat. Kero One, Dumbfoundead, MYK & Rakaa)

Look in the mirror, kid – you’re a wonder like the pyramids.
Rocksteady is another track off Epik High’s [e] album, the 5th track of the second half [e]nergy. Rocksteady is a fun and funky posturing track, full of clever verses from featured artists Kero One, Dumbfoundead (AKA Parker), Rakaa and long-time collaborator MYK. Not to insinuate that Tablo’s own verse isn’t as clever as the rest; the word play on this track is immense, and if any Epik High track deserved more love it’s this one.

Be your own big boss – and be sure to blast it!

5. Top Gun

I’m the top gun. Competition? Got none.

Top Gun is the 5th track on Epik High’s 2009 book album Map The Soul, their first album on their ill-fated independent label of the same name. 2009 was a big year for Epik High, and it’s understandable that this would result in another fun, cocky track from them. Just the idea of having no other competition is infectious, and one particular performance encompasses everything that’s fun about listening to the track – being your own number 1 is fun, so own it like Epik High do in their Map The Soul showcase below.

6. Wordkill

Everybody’s breakin’, breakin’, breakin’ me down.

Wordkill is the fourth track off Epik High’s 2009 special release album Epilogue, which is a collection of unreleased tracks spanning Epik High’s then-seven year run.

It’s fitting that Wordkill is a previously hidden track, because the lyrics and the melody feel as lost as the track itself before its release. Wordkill is a completely heartbroken song, so it’s probably best that it doesn’t even break the 3 minutes and 30 seconds mark. It’s beautiful, however; beautiful and angry, and you might need a few minutes if you take a look at the lyric translations.

There are many more Epik High tracks that have been released over the years. I fully believe that Epik High cannot be recommended enough, between their prolific discography and the variety of the sounds they’ve managed to encompass over the years. Be sure to check out some more tracks if you like what you’ve heard. I promise you’ll find one to love.

 

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Helen

Production journalist, sociology grad and video games enthusiast. I really love Epik High. Tweeting at @hm_worthed