Music Monday | Epik High — Epik High Is Here 上 (Part 1) & Epik High Is Here 下 (Part 2)

Music Monday | Epik High — Epik High Is Here 上 (Part 1) & Epik High Is Here 下 (Part 2)

Hello BAYOG luvlies~ It’s Monday, so y’all know what that means! It’s time for another Music Monday post! We’ll be covering Epik High’s Epik High Is Here! It’s actually a 2 part album that includes Epik High Is Here 上 (Part 1) & Epik High Is Here 下 (Part 2)!~ Part 1 was actually released back in January 2021, and Part 2 was released recently in February 2022. Again, it’s one album though. Honestly, I chose to cover this album today since I’ll be off on vacation this week with some of the BAYOG Crew, and….we’ll be seeing and meeting Epik High once again!~ I am so freakin’ hyped~ Anyway, let’s goooo~

2014mama Mama Moment GIF - 2014mama Mama Moment Kpop GIFs

If y’all didn’t already know, I am a HUGE Epik High fan (High Skool). I’ve been a fan of their music for YEARS. I basically got into their music back in 2005 with their tracks [“Fly”] and [“Paris”] from their Swan Songs album. I’ve covered them a bunch of times on the blog, including [“Fan”], [“Love Love Love”], [Sleepless In ________], and [“비 오는 날 듣기 좋은 노래(Rain Song) (Feat. Colde)“]. I’ve also covered some more Epik High and Tablo’s solo work on my [Airbag Playlists]. “Rain Song” is actually one of the songs on Epik High Is Here 下 (Part 2).

I’ll let Tablo explain Epik High to y’all
Tablo talking about Epik High on his podcast

I won’t go into too much of their background, since I’ve covered them in all the previous posts. But as a brief recap, Epik High (에픽하이) is a South Korean alternative hip-hop group consisting of rappers Tablo and Mithra Jin, as well as DJ Tukutz. They’re all hilarious, witty, and down-to-earth people. While they are a hip hop group, they use various genres from hip hop, jazz, rock, pop, EDM, etc. They’ve also been in the industry for a long time. They actually debuted in 2003. Originally, they started off as an underground hip-hop group. They then signed on to a small label and released their first album Map the Soul. While they gained popularity as a hip-hop group, they weren’t popular mainstream-wise. At the time, hip-hop was still new and basically niche in South Korea. It wasn’t until their third album Swan Songs, that Epik High started to gain mainstream popularity. Their song “Fly” from Swan Songs was a hit, and they were recognized by the mainstream crowd ever since. I personally love Epik High not just because of the quality of their music and lyrics. But they also cover alot of topics and their music has some deep and thought-provoking messages. Sometimes, they covered topics that were controversial, political, and considered taboo for a conservative country like South Korea. It was to the point that they did get some songs banned on TV and radio. Still, it’s their honesty, thought-provoking, and relatable music and messages that made them well received by their fans (like me). Nearly 20 years later, and despite several struggles, they’re still going strong. To this day, Epik High is known as one of THE legendary Korean hip-hop acts and is credited with the rise and popularity of hip-hop in the Korean music scene. There was also a recently released podcast from Vice and iHeartRadio called [Authentic: The Story of Tablo]. I highly recommend it. It’s a podcast that covered the crazy experience Tablo had to go through due to a group called TaJinYo (We Demand the Truth From Tablo). Basically, Tablo was born in South Korea, moved around, moved and went to school in Canada, went and graduated from Stanford with both a BA and MA in like 3 years. Dude is hella smart, which is obvious from his lyrics. However, there was a group that basically spread and fueled a rumor turned crazy conspiracy theory that Tablo lied about going to and graduating from Stanford. It ended up becoming this crazy national witch hunt. It’s absolutely insane and really messed up Tablo’s life and nearly ruined his career. It’s a whole other topic. But I recommend the podcast as it deep dives into it directly from Tablo, and it also covers Epik High’s history and struggles. Super interesting, and I’m not even one to enjoy alot of podcasts. If you do end up being interested in that whole story about Tablo and the TaJinYo bullshit (yes, I’mma call it bullshit), I also recommend checking out his [Fever’s End] album, as it was the direct result of going through that painful time. Normally, I’d also add some recommendations, but there’s so much amazing songs by Epik High and even Tablo’s solos and features. So I’ll direct you to this playlist I made [Here].

Artist: Epik High/에픽하이
Album: Epik High Is Here 上 (Part 1)
Genre: K-pop, Hip Hop, Rap, R&B, Lo-Fi
Language: Korean, English
Release: January 2021

Alright, let’s first get to Epik High Is Here 上 (Part 1), which is the first part of Epik High’s Epik High Is Here album. This was released back on January 18, 2021. It was their 10th album too. Epik High actually released a short documentary on the making of this album on their YouTube channel. They felt like most of their songs had been dark and cold, so they decided to go somewhere warm for new inspiration and to try new things. So they ended up going to Los Angeles. This was pre-covid though. Like right before covid hit. So they had worked on part of the album in LA, and finished it up in South Korea during the pandemic. So this is also an album born out of quarantine and the covid situation. It embodies Epik High’s signature sound and feel, but also tries out different things as well. For example, you have “Rosario” which features CL and ZICO. It’s a super confident track that’s also got this message of “Fuck you, I’m the greatest”, but it also has a Spanish flair to it. We also have Tablo’s solo track, “Lesson Zero”. This is a reference to Tablo’s other “Lesson ___” tracks from previous albums, such as “Lesson 1”, “Lesson 2”, “Lesson 3”, “Lesson 4”, and “Lesson 5”. So you would expect it to be “Lesson 6”. Instead, the lesson for this track is to look back and start anew. After all, we’ve all grown, things change, so sometimes it’s best to start over again. We also have “Based On A True Story” which features Heize. This is a melancholy track that has this type of “Parisian” vibe with this accordion (?). It’s also got this old film vibe to it. This album also has so many great features on it from [CL], [ZICO], [Heize], [GSoul], B.I (formerly of iKon), Miso, Changmo, Nuksal, Woo, and Kim Sawol. There’s also a little audio cameo from Haru, Tablo’s daughter, in “Wish You Were Here”. It is expected that some of Epik High’s songs feel more dark and heavy. I personally feel like Epik High Is Here 上 (Part 1) feels darker and heavier than Epik High Is Here 下 (Part 2). It’s also reflective in the album art. However, it totally makes sense. Again, a chunk of this album was produced and then completed when the pandemic first broke out. It’s reflective of those frustrations and worries that we all felt. Anyway, this whole album was amazing. I literally stayed up all night and waited for the album to drop and watch the music video premieres with Kenny (blackatron). So it was fun and I really enjoyed it. However, I do have to say my top faves from this part of the album would be: “End of the World (Feat. GSoul)”, “True Crime (Feat. Miso)”, “Lesson Zero”, “Rosario (Feat. CL, ZICO)”, “Based On a True Story (Feat. Heize)”, and “Leica (Feat. Kim Sawol)”. Fun fact: “Leica” was a favorite of RM (Kim Nam Joon) of BTS~

Epik High did upload a mini-documentary video they did on the album
Artist: Epik High/에픽하이
Album: Epik High Is Here 下 (Part 2)
Genre: K-pop, Hip Hop, Rap, R&B, Lo-Fi
Language: Korean, English
Release: February 2022

Alright, so now we’re at Epik High Is Here 下 (Part 2)! This one was released recently on February 14, 2022. Who needs a Valentine when there’s an Epik High album drop~ Anyway, this quite literally picks up where Part 1 left off. Like, literally. In “Wish You Were Here”, the last track on Part 1, it ends with Tablo saying, “Wish you were…” The first track on Part 2 is “Prequel” and literally starts with Tablo saying, “Here….Here… I’m here…”So first I definitely recommend listening to the whole album in order, as it is an experience and [Tablo himself recommended doing so]. Because apparently, there are a couple of parts like that. I think out of the 2 parts of the album, Part 2 is my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the tracks on both parts. However, I just felt like I enjoyed the tracks on Part 2 more. I enjoyed it sonically more than Part 1. I think part of it might be because it had new elements, while still having Epik High’s signature sound. However, I also like it because it felt almost nostalgic? Alot of the tracks gave me similar vibes to stuff from Epik High’s older stuff. “Champagne” actually featured audio clips from their first concert performance too I believe. I felt like it perfectly embodied Epik High of the past and present. It showed their classic sound and new sounds but also still kept their heart and messages. 10 albums is a lot of tracks. They’ve been at it for nearly 20 years, which is no simple feat. But the fact that they’ve changed and matured, but haven’t lost the heart and the messages they put through…I find that amazing. Anyway, I also just felt like Part 2 really hit me pretty hard, as I could really feel and relate to the topics for the tracks on this part. “I Hated Myself (Tablo’s Word)”, is another Tablo solo. This one, in particular, really hit me because I could totally relate. I’ve had times I’ve really hated myself. I give a lot of love to others but had a difficult time loving myself. Although it’s something I’ve been working on over the past couple of years. But honestly, the whole track is amazing and just made me cry. Tablo [said], “If you were raised to love everyone but yourself, ‘I Hated Myself’ is for us.” This album also features a great lineup of featured artists. Epik High never disappoints. We have Wonstein and pH-1 on “Super Rare”, which is my top favorite track. Y’all know I love [pH-1], but Wonstein is also another one of my favorite rappers and K-R&B singers. [Younha] is a regular feature on [many] [different] Epik High and [Tablo] tracks and [performances]. She’s basically like a 5th member of Epik High after MYK (aka SALTNPAPER). So it was great to see her return as a feature on “Gray So Gray”. Fun fact, the title is a play on words. The Korean title is “그래서 그래/Geuraeseo Geurae”. Which sounds like “Gray So Gray”. In actuality 그래서 그래 can roughly be translated to “Just because”. But the English title “Gray So Gray” also matches the vibe and message of the track~ We also have Colde on [“Rain Song”], which we’ve previously covered on Music Monday. Y’all also know Colde is one of my all-time favorite K-R&B artists. Y’all also know I absolutely loved this track. We also have [Lee Hi] on “Rich Kids Anthem”~ They’re former label mates and previously worked on Epik High’s [“It’s Cold”] about a decade ago, so it was nice to see a returning feature. I love how much she’s matured in her sound and music, so it was a great track and feature as well. “Face ID” was a track that was promoted as a single before Part 2 was released. It features Giriboy, Sik-K, and JUSTHIS. I wasn’t familiar with JUSTHIS, but Giriboy and Sik-K are big names in K-Hip Hop and K-R&B, so I recognize and love them. Honestly, I wasn’t super digging it at first when I first heard it, but it’s growing on me. Lastly, we have Kim Feel on “Family Portrait”. I recognized him from K-Drama OSTs. I absolutely loved him on [“Fallin'”] from the Abyss OST. I also really loved “BRB”. I love lo-fi tracks, and this one just instantly grabbed my attention on the first listen~ Again, I love all the tracks, but my top faves for Part 2 would be “Super Rare (Feat. Wonstein, pH-1)”, “Gray So Gray (Feat. Younha)”, “BRB”, “I Hated Myself (Tablo’s Word)”, “Rain Song (Feat. Colde)”, “Prequel”, and “Rich Kids Anthem (Feat. Lee Hi)”. Although I really do especially love the lyrics for “Here”, “Prequel”, and “Family Portrait”. I also loved the vibe of “Champagne”.

Bts Thinking GIF - Bts Thinking Math GIFs
Me trying to figure out symbolism and all that jazz

On a side note, the album covers for both Part 1 and Part 2 mirror each other, as they both feature wings. Part 1 is that of a butterfly, while Part 2 features that of a bird. Perhaps we can think of the symbolism of a butterfly representing weakness or fragility, but also metamorphosis. The album cover is also aesthetically darker with black and white. So perhaps something along the lines of “From darkness…” While Part 2 features a bird that’s soaring almost. Technically 2, in a dark color and lighter color. It’s also against a lighter color. Perhaps that we can find a balance of dark and light, and still spread our wings and fly above? Dunno, yo’ girl tired and this too much big-brain moment for her at the moment. But something along those lines in my opinion. But honestly, I also found Part 2 to sonically not sound as heavy and dark as Part 1.

You can find Epik High Is Here 上 (Part 1) on Spotify, here:

You can find Epik High Is Here 下 (Part 2) on Spotify, here:


More Behind-The-Scenes/Making Vids

Just because I find the process and artists’ explanation of their tracks and craft to be interesting, and provides better perspective of the tracks.

This is a playlist and features some vlog/behind-the-scenes stuff

Videos

Normally I’d break things down and explain lyrics in detail, but I’ll mostly leave all that to y’all this time~ I love the beauty of Epik High’s music and lyrics in the symbolism and meaning they carry. But it’s also beautiful in that it can also be up to your interpretation and how it resonates with you~ There are only a couple of actual music videos, while the rest are visualizers and live MVs/performances. I’ll post in order of release for y’all~

Lesson Zero

Sometimes we’re caught up in things we want to learn or have learned. But sometimes we simply also need to unlearn, and just go back a bit.

내 얘기 같아 (Based On A True Story) (Feat. Heize)

This is a track born from when COVID hit and everyone experienced the same sense of loss, sadness, isolation, and loneliness. So the idea of this song is feeling like someone else’s story is your own.

Rosario (Feat. CL, ZICO)

There’s also [TikTok version MV] if you want more ridiculousness. This can be seen as tied to Epik High’s “Born Hater (Feat. Beenzinom, Verbal Jint, B.I, MINO, Bobby)”. It also features a (rebuilt version) of the toilet set from the [“Born Hater” Music Video]. The visuals, symbolism, and references in this video though. It’s super interesting. It’s got a noir film vibe to it. Also the lyrics? Amazing. “You ain’t missing nobody, you’re missin’ a heart”. Bruh.

True Crime (Feat. MISO)

I love the vibe of this track and Miso’s vocals with it. Basically about a love that is deemed “wrong”, but saying “To hell with it”.

Leica (Feat. Kim Sawol)

In today’s world, many use social media and such to document and share their lives and experiences. However, many seem to just be collecting memories, and not actually living in and experiencing the actual moment. There are just some things you need to feel and experience.

비 오는 날 듣기 좋은 노래 (Rain Song) (Feat. Colde)

Ever have that moment when it rains and you hear an old song and just think of someone or something of the past?

Face ID (Feat. Giriboy, Sik-K, JUSTHIS)

Cuz we usually use our face to unlock something with face ID. Tablo said that due to COVID, it’s been awhile since people have used their faces to verify their identities. It’s also been hard for anyone in the world to do things face to face. So they wanted to make a song regarding people’s faces. Basic message is, “In the good times, we can face each other and smile. And if you have anything bad to say, say it to my face.”

Super Rare (Feat. Wonstein, pH-1)

I just had to throw in this perf too

This song is just basically about confidence and being unbothered, and just knowing your worth isn’t based on others. People like to talk and expect shit, but we got our own talents and things we’re amazing at and others aren’t capable of.

그래서그래 (Gray So Gray) (Feat. Younha)

There are times things don’t work out. Sometimes we end up looking back and thinking, “Maybe it’s because of this and this”. We put reasons and try to make sense of things. We come to accept that it must naturally be so because of whatever. At times we end up blaming ourselves and thinking the reason must be because of something we’ve done, just to try to understand and make sense of the situation.

Here + Prequel

Ever feel if you’re really here or not? Whether you’re progressing or not? Anyways, this is basically Epik High looking back at their journey, career, and all that they’ve achieved. It’s a song for Epik High and the fans who’ve been with them and supported them along the journey.

가족관계증명서 (Family Portrait) (Feat. Kim Feel)

This one is for those who’ve lost someone. Sometimes we don’t get along and misinterpret each other. Sadly, there are times we don’t really notice or feel anything until after they’re gone. It’s then we realize their impact and the impact we’ve had on each other. At times we also feel this sense of loss, and we feel like we don’t know ourselves anymore either.

BRB

Sometimes we just need to take a step back, go away for a bit, and then come back. But we also have those we care about and will come back to again.

Bonus: Epik High reacting to their Rosario MV


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Anyway, that’s it for this post y’all! I know, it’s a long post, but it is a huge album with a lot on it. I absolutely love Epik High and their music, and I loved these albums too. I hope you all enjoyed it as well! What are your fave tracks? Any fave Epik High tracks in general? Anyway, that’s all for today y’all. Again, I’ll be taking a mini-hiatus for the next week or week and a half as I go enjoy my vacation with friends, including some of the BAYOG Bros. Also, I’m gonna go enjoy myself seeing Epik High perform live and meeting them again~ Wish me luck on my hella early-ass flight… I’mma need all the coffee and caffeine lolol Until next time! Y’all stay safe and take care~

Kpop Tablo GIF - Kpop Tablo Epikhigh GIFs
I have to go survive and hella early ass flight tomorrow. Wish me luck lmao


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