by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
If you haven’t heard already, South Korean hip-hop group Epik High is currently in the middle of their North American Tour. The trio is scheduled to perform tonight at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles.
For the “high skoolers” who are unable to attend tonight’s concert, don’t worry, we got you covered. KoreAm will be at Epik High’s L.A. concert, and we plan on live-tweeting throughout the night.
But before the festivities begin, here are 10 facts you may not know about Epik High.
1. Epik cameo in Lee Hyori’s “10 Minute” music video
Screenshot captured from Hyori’s “10 Minute” music video (Modified by KoreAm)
Before their debut, Epik High made a cameo in Lee Hyori’s “10 Minutes” music video. You can see the trio ogling Hyori in the background at the 0:42 mark.
2. Delayed Debut
Epik High with Simon D and Dynamic Duo (Photo via Seoul Sync)
Epik High formed in 2001 under the mentorship of other underground hip-hop artists, particularly CB Mass (now known as Dynamic Duo). However, the trio’s debut got postponed after Curbin of CB Mass was accused of embezzling Epik High’s funds for their first studio album. Epik High eventually signed with Woolim Entertainment, and with Curbin kicked out of CB Mass, Choiza and Gaeko moved on to form Dynamic Duo.
3. Epik High and the creation of INFINITE
Tablo and Mithra with INFINITE. (Photo via mapado2.tistory.com)
During their tenure at Woolim Entertainment, Epik High helped produce the K-pop boy band INFINITE. Tablo and Mithra both wrote lyrics for the band’s debut mini-album, First Invasion. Various INFINITE members also starred in Epik High’s music video for “Run.”
4. Swan Songs was intended to be Epik High’s final album
Epik High officially debuted in 2003 with their album Map the Soul. However, they did not achieve commercial success until their third album, which was titled Swan Songs because the members believed that it would be their final album together. Instead, Swan Songs launched Epik High to fame after their songs “Fly” and “Paris” topped Korean music charts.
5. Mithra Jin first debuted in a hip-hop group called, “K-Ryders”
Before he joined Epik High, Mithra made his debut as a rapper through K-Ryders, an underground hip-hop group that included members J-Win, DJ D-Tones, Kyung Bin. The group disbanded in 2002, citing personal reasons.
6. DJ Tukutz’s Rave and Radio Days
DJ Tukutz may be a father now, but he had his wild days. He first got into DJ-ing in the summer of 1995 by spinning records at local raves and warehouse parties in Japan. After he graduated from Technics DJ School, Tukutz teamed up with Tablo and headed to the States, where he DJ-ed for radio shows, live events and clubs around the New York metropolitan area.
7. Tablo was featured in Rain’s song, “I’m Coming”
Over the past 12 years, Tablo has collaborated with several Korean artists, including Clazziquai, Verbal Jint, Younha, Taeyang and Xia Junsu. But my favorite Tablo collab track has to be Rain’s 2006 hit song “I’m Coming.” His rap is edited out in Rain’s music video and live performances, but you can hear it in the actual track.
8. Tablo’s Stanford Controversy
In mid-2010, a group of anti-fans accused Tablo of fabricating his Stanford credentials. At the time, South Korea was reeling from a string of fake diploma scandals, and an online forum called “TaJinYo,” an abbreviation for the Korean phrase “Tell the truth, Tablo,” fired a vicious smear campaign against the rapper.
A few months later, the police contacted Stanford and confirmed that Tablo did indeed graduate from the university. TaJinYo’s leader, identified under the username “WhatsBecomes,” was arrested and the online forum was sued by Tablo for criminal defamation. You can read more about the controversy in KoreAm‘s September 2010 issue.
9. Government attempts to ban songs from Remapping the Soul
For their fourth album Remapping the Human Soul, Epik High committed to the “no genre, just music” style, which led some songs in the album to be much darker and address mature issues, including sexual crimes, war, religion and politics. These songs were censored by several broadcasting stations. At one point, South Korea’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism even attempted to stop radio airplay, Tablo said in an interview with the Korea Times.
10. Epik High heads a sub-label under YG Enterainment
Earlier this month, Epik High announced that it will run a new sub-label titled, “High Ground” under YG Entertainment. While many fans initially believed that the new label would cater to the underground hip-hop artists, Tablo clarified during his radio show that High Ground would embrace all genres and cast musicians from diverse backgrounds.