The hyungs are back in town! Epik High have released their 8th album Shoebox, and comeback track Born Hater is already blitzing the charts.

The hip-hop trio are: Tablo (leader, rapper), Mithra Jin (rapper, lyricist), and DJ Tukutz (DJ, producer). All three members compose songs, and they have eleven years’ experience of K-pop under their belts, plus their military service done and dusted.

Although they’re now signed to YG Entertainment, Epik High started out with Woollim Entertainment when they debuted in 2003. Their first album Map of the Human Soul didn’t fare well, as hip-hop was still an underground scene in Korea. Their second album, High Society, got more attention but it was third time lucky – Fly from their 2005 album Swan Songs was the No.1 breakthrough they needed.

While some of Epik High’s hits have been general crowd-pleasers- Fly was featured in the FIFA 07 video game, for example – their fourth album Remapping the Human Soul opened the door to a darker side of their music. Several of the songs from were banned and censored by Korean media channels.

Tablo spoke to the BBC about the darkness in his music in 2013, after Epik High picked up their fourth Golden Disk Award for Best Hip-Hop Artist. He said: “My songs tend to be emotional, I think a little dark… it’s about the inner life that goes on in other people’s lives. So if you are interested in the darkness, then tap into my music.”

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Many do indeed embrace the darkness: aside from winning awards, Epik High’s albums consistently rise up the charts, and in 2009 they even formed and published under their own independent label, Map the Soul Inc. Last year they celebrated their 10th anniversary with the song 420, but this week’s album is their first in two years. Tablo revealed on a radio show that over 100 songs were recorded in preparation for it. Given the success of Born Hater so far, this album is well worth the wait.

Recommended vids

Born Hater – the latest release features strong language and roaches.

Run– featuring a pre-debut Infinite L, Sungjong, Sunggyu and Woohyun

Don’t Hate Me – Supermarket Sweep on acid

Fly – Live performance on Mnet

It’s Cold – practice your hangul with the official Noraebang version (featuring Lee Hi)

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About Author

British writer and editor living in Japan. Currently studying Japanese, Korean, K-pop dance, and the fine form of 이성종's legs.