Album Review: Epik High - Epilogue

Epik High – Epilogue

Tracklist :

1. 서랍 (Shelves)
2. Run
3. 바보 (Fool) featuring Bumkey
4. Wordkill
5. Blossom
6. 비늘 (Skin) featuring Yankie
7. 잡음 (Distorted)
8. Coffee featuring 성아 (Sung Ah)
9. Over
10. 숲 (Roots)

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Hip-hop group Epik High (currently Tablo and Mithra Jin) follow up on last year’s hit double disc album ‘[e]’, with this special release LP featuring unreleased tracks from the duo. ‘Epilogue’ is the first album since DJ Tukutz’s military departure and is supposedly the last until he returns.

Currently holding the crown in the Korean hip-hop scene as the most consistent group for the past 6 years, Epik High is no stranger to critical acclaim and mainstream success. Their music appeals to both underground and mainstream audiences, by pushing the envelope to promote artistry, poetry, and social issues in their lyrics.

Spanning a time period of the past 6 years, there is a good variety of experimental hip-hop tracks ranging from soft rock to R&B found in ‘Epilogue’.

The album starts off with a piano loop instrumental track before the high-energy, highly-emotional title track, “Run” is introduced.  On this song, Tablo contributes by lending his singing voice on the inspirational chorus. The theme and message of “Run” is simple – never give up. As evident from the music video, which chronicles the life of a young man from birth, growing up in a loving, but troubled household, falling in and out of love, experiencing a personal tragedy and getting back up on his feet. The song makes a parallel comparison on life as a race. It is very radio friendly and is easily the catchiest song on the whole album.

The next track is a slow R&B number called “Fool” which features Bumkey from Komplex. The tempo is a drastic change in pace after “Run” with a musical focus catering to the hopeless romantics. The song itself, comes off as somewhat forgettable, and not as memorable as “Run.” Thankfully, “Wordkill,” breaks off from that mood, immediately. Originally released on a special concert giveaway CD entitled ‘Lost Maps #001,’ most hardcore fans may already be familiar with this track. The only difference this time around, is the new chorus and tweaked instrumental. The song is about how discouraging words can hurt an individual.  Interestingly enough, “Wordkill” was composed for 2008’s ‘Vol.5 Pieces: Part One’ but was cut from that album’s final track selection. Despite that, it is now one of the standout tracks on ‘Epilogue.’

Next on the tracklist is the instrumental piece, “Blossom.” Typical of most Epik High albums, the instrumental tracks are treated as both album interludes and legit musical works, unlike skits or fillers on other artists’ albums. By this regard, the beautiful melody on “Blossom” is certainly listenable, just like their other compositions. Moving forward to the sixth track, “비늘 (Skin)” is the only song on ‘Epilogue’ that features a guest emcee (Yankie from TBNY). As always, Yankie’s flow compliments well with Mithra and Tablo, but the beat for the song itself is a little dull.  The three rappers take turns dissecting their thoughts to the sound of hard drums and a guitar loop. It’s not their best song together, but the lyrical chemistry amongst them is there.

For fans of the title song, “잡음 (Distorted)”, has a sound similar to “Run.” The song format is switched around with Mithra rapping on the whole song while Tablo sings the hook. The track itself has a soft rock feel, similar to the title track but with a much more mellow chorus.  Speaking of mellow, the track that follows is the light and easy-sounding “Coffee,” which originally, was composed to be a theme song for a rejected sitcom. Vocalist Sung Ah provides soothing vocals throughout the song while Tablo and Mithra give two short verses each. The song is good, but it sticks out like a sore thumb for sounding so different.

The album closes off with a solo cut from Tablo entitled “Over” and its last instrumental -“숲 (Roots).” The beat for “Over” may consist of a simple piano and drum loop, but the song itself is deep in content. Unlike the other songs before it, “Over” is an English track with a powerful message to overachievers everywhere, reminding them that early success is only the beginning of a greater journey. This alone makes it a highly recommended listen. Last but not least, the eerily calming “숲 (Roots)” closes ‘Epilogue’ to the sound of musical rainfall.

In conclusion, ‘Epilogue’ is a good album but not their best work, due to the short length and the inconsistent song transitions throughout. Again, because the album is consisted of unreleased tracks, this is not really their fault. Each song has its own personality, but a few are honestly forgettable.  Despite this, the album is still a worthy purchase for fans. For everyone else, it is recommended they check out the older albums to understand the eclectic and always evolving group that is Epik High.

Rating: 4/5

Ratings breakdown:
5/5 – Even if you’re not a fan of this artist/group this album is a must buy.
4/5 – If you’re a fan of this artist/group, you must buy this album.
3/5 – If you’re a fan of this artist/group, you might want to add this one to your collection.
2/5 – I don’t think a fan would even buy this.
1/5 – You might as well just flush your money down the toilet.

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