Few Korean musical acts have achieved as much as Epik High. Since 2001, the alt-hip-hop trio has been leaders of the genre and have returned time and time again with relevant music that draws the attention of both domestic and international audiences. Frontman Tablo took to Twitter earlier this week and revealed that the group will return in 2017 with new music.
On Monday, Tablo responded to a fan on the social media platform and said that Epik High is working on the group’s first new album since 2014’s Shoebox, which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard World Albums chart. The rapper also reiterated Epik High’s autonomy as artists by stating that the group, not their label YG Entertainment, decides when their music comes out. The following day, the Korean-Canadian rapper offered a bit more information, revealing that “something will materialize this year.”
We are working on one. https://t.co/JUJR2alVFl
— tablo | ??? (@blobyblo) January 24, 2017
The news came hours after the 10th anniversary of Remapping the Human Soul, Epik High’s most successful, and particularly controversial, album. Remapping, released on Jan. 23, 2007, became the third-best-selling album in Korea that year despite several songs being censored due to their references to societal ills, religion, war and politics.
Rather than limiting themselves to the boundaries of the hip-hop genre, Epik High blended their unique take on hip-hop with jazz, rock, soul, trance and the voices of several featured artists on the 27 tracks of Remapping. Along with hits “Love Love Love” and “Fan,” the latter of which expressed the desperate passion felt by fans for celebrities, the two-part album served as a forum for Epik High to express their everyday feelings and frustrations.
“Mr. Doctor” directly referenced then-U.S. President George W. Bush, while the haunting, languid “Flow” exploded with Tablo’s declarations of “F— the president” and “F— the government.” Also inflammatory was the religiously charged “Scapegoat,” which questioned the validity of using God’s name to wage war (“Is it the military or the Oedipus complex/ Which kills the holy father for Industrial contracts?”). Interlude instrumental tracks in the second half of the album were also provocative, titled “Slave Song (Overture),” “The Underground Railroad (Intermission)” and “Public Execution (Finale).”
To commemorate the anniversary of the hit album, all three Epik High members — Tablo, DJ Tukutz and Mithra Jin — shared the jacket cover of Remapping the Human Soul on their Instagram accounts. In addition, Tablo expressed the album’s importance to the band on Twitter, and thanked fans for their support over the years.
Epik High is one of the most prominent Korean acts internationally and has appeared at both SXSW and Coachella. The group transitioned from the underground and rose to prominence under Woollim Entertainment before moving to YG Entertainment 2012. In 2015, Tablo became the head of the YG Entertainment indie sub-label HIGHGRND, which houses indie acts like Hyukoh and The Black Skirts.