In case you missed it, October 23, 2017 marked Epik High’s 14 year anniversary and was also the release date of their latest album, We’ve Done Something Wonderful. So let’s take a walk through the group’s many B-sides. Epik High is probably one of the most prolific K-Hip hop groups that’s still active in the industry. They’ve released 13 albums to date, plus Tablo helps run his boutique label, HIGHGRND, which houses some new and old indie artists. Between the fact they’ve been around for almost 15 years now and the sheer amount of music they’ve produced, it’s nearly impossible to cover everything they’ve done. If you like what you hear here, I definitely recommend checking out their full catalogue, but for today, let’s get ready for the cold weather with their more laid-back tracks.
Let’s start with one of the many B-sides from We’ve Done Something Wonderful: “Here Come the Regrets” featuring Lee Hi. This song might be my favorite off this album. Lee Hi’s vocals are powerful and when layered over the heavy bass and haunting melody that the piano plays, it creates an atmosphere that’s so dramatic. It’s so easy to imagine some sort of scorned lover taking her revenge while listening to this song. I just want to see Lee Hi in all black with a candelabra, standing over a fallen man while Tablo, Mithra, and DJ Kutuz back her up.
Next up is “Amor Fati” featuring Kim Jong-wan off of Shoebox. I adore this song; the use of a very simple back beat combined with a synth and piano melody really makes this song stand out to me. On top of that, the song feels very urgent with Jong-wan’s desperate vocals, singing the chorus like it’s important for the listener to hear what he’s saying. The lyrics criticize blind devotion, whether it’s to a religion, consumerism, or trends. You can interpret them to also be commentary on the group’s past scandals as well. “Amor Fati” balances the frustration and anger present in the lyrics with the more delicate sounding instruments in a way that I really enjoy. Plus, this is the kind of song I’d listen to on my commute home after a long week.
Off their 2013 album, 99 we have “You Don’t Deserve Her” featuring another Epik High regular collaborator, Gaeko. This song isn’t as moody as the previous songs, but it’s still a good laid-back tune. The beats for the most part are based on beatboxing and during the first chorus they bring in a guitar. It’s a very Latin inspired guitar riff and it’s different from a lot of songs that Epik High has done. “You Don’t Deserve Her” is just a light-hearted song.
“Blossom” is an instrumental track off their album Epilogue. It’s shorter and acts as sort of a transitional piece in the album, but also works as a standalone track. It showcases the kind of layered instrumentation you can expect to find in an Epik High track. “Blossom” is also a really versatile song. Since the focus is more on creating an ambience rather than delivering a message, it’s easy to listen to whenever. You could listen to it while working or while driving. It would not feel out of place to walk into a trendy cafe and hear this song playing, which is exactly what I want in my ambient music.
For the last song, I’m going way back to Epik High’s first album, Map of the Human Soul. The song “Get High” is everything I love about hip hop in a song: Tongue-twister lyrics that deliver both a message and a punchline, groovy beats and minimal, yet super melodic instrumentation. “Get High” is very reminiscent of early hip hop and rap from the 80s, especially in the cadence Tablo and Mithra use when they’re rapping. It’s the ultimate hip hop fans’ song.
I know I’ve missed some great Epik High songs with this list, so chime in in the comments and let us know what your favorite B-sides from Epik High are!