Name: Epik High
Members: Tablo, Mithra Jin, DJ Tukutz
Active Since: 2001
Epik High is a popular Korean hip-hop group composed of three members: Tablo, Mithra Jin, and DJ Tukutz. Formed in 2001, they released their first album, Map of the Human Soul, in 2003. It wasn’t until their third album in 2005, though, that they received nation-wide attention with their hit song “Fly” and won Best Hip-Hop Artist of the year in multiple award shows. They have continued releasing chart toppers ever since, such as “Fan,” “One,” and “Happen Ending.” Their eighth and most recent album titled Shoebox was released last year in October and hit No. 1 on Billboard’s World Albums chart.
The group is well-known for writing and producing their own songs and have been praised many times over for their thought-provoking lyrics. They are also known for mixing hip hop with other musical genres and their collaborations with other artists in all of their albums.
They kicked off their first solo and second ever North American tour on May 28th in San Francisco and ended on June 13th in Toronto, stopping by 9 different cities with 2 encores. This is the biggest headlining North American tour for any Korean artist since the Wonder Girls in 2010. I had the chance to attend the concert in Vancouver on May 31st at Vogue Theatre and there were absolutely no regrets having bought the VIP tickets.
Full of energy and jokes, Epik High began the night with one of their newest songs, “Encore,” and quickly transitioned into an old favourite, “Fly.” They then launched into dramatic self-introductions, theme music included. DJ Tukutz practiced his English skills, Mithra Jin acted as the ambassador of the Korean language, while Tablo stepped in as a “translator” for him (when I mean translator, I mean Tablo emphasizing on Mithra Jin’s sexiness and wanting to find new love in the city).
Along the way, they poked fun at Vancouver weather with the songs “Umbrella” and “It’s Cold” before having a short intermission where they discussed their favourite things about North America. With Epik High, that meant a long list with points ranging from fellow label mate PSY (“Do you know ‘Gangnam Style‘?”), to Spiderman and Batman, Starbucks Frappuccinos, Niagara Falls—even Ernest Hemingway was mentioned. Of course, the thing they loved most was their fans, which the crowd eagerly responded to with “awww”s and “we love you too!”s.
They continued to entertain the crowd by performing hits from their new album Shoebox, such as “Happen Ending” and “Born Hater,” as well as old fan favourites, like “Love Love Love.” In the latter half of the show, the members brought out some of Tablo’s solo songs, such as his cover of Taeyang’s “Eyes, Nose, Lips,” which the crowd willingly sang along to, as well as my own Epik High favourite, “One” (signalling that I could now happily die in peace, having finally heard it live and in person).
Stopping for a small Q&A session in between, the members answered questions about Mithra Jin’s beard (no, he didn’t plan on shaving it off anytime soon, thankfully) and their musical inspirations. Tablo revealed that going through dark times greatly impacted his music, referencing the loneliness he felt as a student at a Vancouver boarding school. With DJ Tukutz, he decided to turn up the stage with his love for his fellow label mates, Big Bang, by dancing to Fantastic Baby as the crowd sang along and cheered.
After the lights dimmed, the crowd did not wait to call for an encore; the members came back to the stage one more time with no less energy than before and performed “Fan” to end the night, their infamous running dance and all.
Epik High indeed lived up to their group’s name at the concert that night and even had an encore show the day after, only proving that Vancouverites loved finally having a dose of Korean music in the city.