“All right, let’s do this — Epik High.”
The audio sample that kicks off the closing track of Epik High Is Here 下 (Part 2), “Champagne,” is crunchy and a bit muffled. Even so, for anyone familiar with the Korean hip-hop trio, it’s clear that it’s frontman Tablo’s voice ringing out on the recording.
Epik High is made up of Tablo, Mithra Jin, and DJ Tukutz, a trio of writers, rappers, producers, and performers who have been working together since 2003. The audio at the start of “Champagne” is taken from a video they, until recently, didn’t know existed. It’s footage of their very first performance together as Epik High.
“It’s us, and we remember it, but it doesn’t even feel like the past,” Tablo tells Consequence over Zoom. “It feels like a moment caught in a crystal orb in a different dimension. Like it’s existing right now.”
It’s impossible to discuss the current influx of South Korean media in the American mainstream and global spaces — sometimes referred to as “hallyu,” or the Korean Wave — without discussing Epik High. RM and Suga of BTS often point to Epik High, particularly their song “Fly,” as an early influence in their own journeys as writers and creators. Epik High is also the first Korean act to be invited back to Coachella, where they’ll be performing this April, for a repeat set.