Epik High

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Epik High
Epik High during an autograph event at COEX, March 2019 From left: Mithra Jin, Tablo, DJ Tukutz
Epik High during an autograph event at COEX, March 2019
From left: Mithra Jin, Tablo, DJ Tukutz
Background information
OriginSeoul, South Korea
GenresAlternative hip hop
Years active2001–present
Associated actsDynamic Duo, MYK, Infinite, Park Bom, Dok2, Yankie, Nell, Planet Shiver, Lee Hi, Pe2ny, TBNY, Jay Park, Sandara Park, YG Family
WebsiteEpik High Website

Epik High (Hangul: 에픽하이) is a South Korean alternative hip hop group from Seoul, composed of Tablo, Mithra Jin, and DJ Tukutz. They are known for having combined genres and different styles of hip hop throughout their career, which has seen the release of eleven studio albums since their debut in 2003, as well as for their coverage of diverse lyrical themes.[1] The group went on hiatus between 2010 and 2012 whilst two of the members served mandatory military service.[2] Upon their return, YG Entertainment signed Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz on July 25, 2012, with Tablo having already released a solo album under the label.[3] They have received international acclaim, winning several music awards in Korea and becoming the first Korean act[4] to play at Coachella.[5]


2001–2005: Career beginnings and breakthrough[edit]

Epik High formed in 2001[6] upon frontman Tablo's return to South Korea after being educated in Vancouver and Stanford.[7] With the addition of Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz, the group made their beginnings in the underground hip hop scene in Seoul, performing with other Korean hip hop groups such as CB Mass and as part of the "Movement Crew", one of the largest hip hop crews of the time in South Korea. As the genre was unpopular among mainstream audiences, the group was relatively unknown early on in their career, with critics seeing little market for "lyrically complex music" that did not match the K-pop model of the time.[7] Their first performance was to a small audience at the amusement park Everland in 2002.[8] They released their debut album, Map of the Human Soul, under Woollim Entertainment in 2003, and began to gain success with the release of their second album, High Society (2004).

Epik High performing at Everland in 2007

Swan Songs was intended to be Epik High's final album, following the poor performance of their previous two releases; however, it became a mainstream hit and made them one of the most popular hip hop groups in Korea.[9] The album was a chart success with the title track, "Fly", reaching number one on domestic charts.[10] "Fly" also featured on the soundtracks for FIFA 07 and Pump It Up.[9] Another of the album tracks, "Paris" featuring Loveholics' Jisun, was also a hit in Japan and Korea.[9] The album was repackaged the following year as Black Swan Songs, which included remixes of several tracks.

2006–2009: Continued success[edit]

Originally set for release in October 2006, Epik High's fourth album Remapping the Human Soul was released on January 23, 2007.[11] The two upbeat lead singles, "Fan" and "Love Love Love", were hits, while the rest of the album was darker and tackled diverse themes including sexual crime, war, religion, and education. The album was reportedly censored by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as a result of its lyrical and thematic content.[12] Despite this, it was a commercial success in both Korea and Japan. It went on to sell 120,301 copies during the year, making it the third best-selling album of 2007 in South Korea.[13] During this time, the group spoke of their "no genre, just music" philosophy, expressing frustration with "narrow", "out-dated and isolated" perceptions of the hip hop genre.[1]

Over 50,000 copies of their fifth studio album entitled Pieces, Part One were pre-ordered before its release in April 2008. The album's release was followed by music videos for the singles "One", "Breakdown", and "Umbrella". After the album's success, Epik High released the EP Lovescream to acclaim in October, with the EP's title track "1 Minute 1 Second" topping online music charts. In early 2009, Epik High parted ways with Woollim Entertainment and founded Map The Soul, an independent record label that consisted of Epik High, MYK, Planet Shiver and Dok2. They released their seventh work, a "book album" entitled 魂: Map the Soul, on March 27 and distributed it exclusively on Epik High's website. Tablo stated that 魂: Map the Soul is not the group's official sixth album, but a special project.

Music videos for the single "Map the Soul" were released on May 19, with worldwide and Korean versions. To commemorate their first release under the independent label, Epik High toured in Japan and performed at Melon Ax in Seoul with Kero One and MYK. That month they also performed in various cities in the US (New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle) along with Dumbfoundead, Kero One, MYK and Far East Movement. On July 22, Epik High and Map the Soul signed electronic group Planet Shiver and released the remix album Remixing The Human Soul.

Epik High's sixth album, [e], was released on September 16 with the title single "Wannabe (따라해)" featuring Mellow, an electronic pop track critiquing K-pop trends. The studio album contained 30 tracks in a 2-CD format. Its release was followed by a South Korean tour, beginning on September 19.

2010–2012: Epilogue, military service and hiatus[edit]

On October 15, 2009, DJ Tukutz enlisted for two years in mandatory military service, two days after his marriage.[14] He was discharged in August 2011.[15]

While DJ Tukutz was conscribed, Epik High's seventh studio album Epilogue was released under Woollim Entertainment on March 9, 2010 to chart success.[16] The music video for its title track, "Run", featured several members of the Woollim-signed boy band Infinite prior to their debut: L as the video's protagonist, Sunggyu as guitarist, Woohyun as bassist, and Sungjong as keyboardist. Infinite's Hoya and Dongwoo also served as backup dancers during promotions of the single on various music shows.

Shortly after the album's release, Mithra Jin also entered into mandatory military service and served two years between August 3, 2010 – May 14, 2012.[15] He entered the 102 reserve in Chuncheon and served as an infantry rifle soldier, a member of the military band, and a GOP soldier before settling at the Defense Media Agency (DEMA).[15]

During the two-year hiatus that followed, Tablo (who is a Canadian citizen and therefore was not required to carry out military service) signed a four-year contract with YG Entertainment and released a solo album titled Fever's End on November 1, 2011.[17] However, he indicated that Epik High had not disbanded.[17]

In July 2012, it was confirmed that Epik High would be making a comeback as a group under YG Entertainment after a three-year hiatus.[18] On October 9, the group released the single "It's Cold" featuring the newly signed Lee Hi, to chart success.[19] They digitally released the album 99, as well as music videos for the tracks "Up" (featuring Park Bom) and "Don't Hate Me", on October 19. The album was physically released on October 23 with two extra tracks not on the digital release.[20]

During the SBS Gayo Daejeon on December 30 they joined Dynamic Duo and Simon D for "Cypher 2012", a remix of popular hip-hop tracks of the year to much acclaim.

2015 K-Pop Night Out at SXSW
DJ Tukutz, Tablo, Mithra Jin

2013–2017: 10th anniversary and worldwide recognition[edit]

On October 23, 2013, Epik High released the single "420" featuring Double K, Yankie, Dok2, Sean2Slow, Dumbfoundead, TopBob, and MYK to celebrate their tenth anniversary.[21]

On May 18, 2014, they released the single "With You" in collaborating with Chinese singer Bibi Zhou, as a re-recording of "Fool" (originally featuring Bumkey) from their previous album Epilogue.[22] On October 18, YG Entertainment released the music video for the pre-release track "Born Hater" featuring a line-up of noted rappers.[23] Epik High's eighth studio album, Shoebox, was physically released on October 22 and met with critical praise for the emotion and complex lyrical content of lead singles "Happen Ending" and "Spoiler" as well as other tracks including "Burj Khalifa" and "Amor Fati".[24]

In March 2015, Epik High performed at SXSW in Austin, Texas.[25] In April 2016, they became the second ever Korean artists to perform at the Coachella music festival,[5][26] where their performance was well received by audiences.[27]

On October 23, 2017, they released We’ve Done Something Wonderful, their ninth studio album.[28]

2018–present: Departure from YG and new works[edit]

On October 3, 2018, Epik High left YG Entertainment after six years.[29] On February 19, 2019, Epik High signed to William Morris Endeavor.[30] Epik High released their second EP, Sleepless in , on March 11.[30] The EP peaked at number 8 on the Gaon Album Chart[31] and number 6 on the Billboard US World Album Chart.[32]

On October 22, 2020, the band posted a new video announcing their tenth album for January 2021.[33] On December 28, 2020, Tablo announced that the group would release part 1 of their tenth album, Epik High Is Here, on January 18, 2021.[34]


Concert tours[edit]

  • Epik High Map The Soul USA Tour (2009)
  • Epik High Concert Parade Asia Tour (2014)[35]
  • Epik High Japan Tour Show Must Go On (2015)[36]
  • Epik High North America Tour (2015)[37]
  • Epik High Concert Legend 3 In Seoul (2015)[38]
  • Epik High Japan Tour (2016)
  • Epik High Concert Now Playing (2016)
  • Epik High Comeback Concert "We've Done Something Wonderful" (2017)
  • EPIK HIGH 2019 European Tour (2019)
  • EPIK HIGH 2019 North American Tour (2019)
  • 2019 EPIK HIGH in Singapore[39]


Gaon Chart Music Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2014 Discovery of the Year Epik High Won [40]
2018 Song of the Year: October "Love Story" (feat. IU) Won [41]
"Home Is Far Away" Nominated

Golden Disc Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2005 Hip-Hop Award "Fly" Won [42]
2007 Main Prize (Bonsang) "Fan" Won
2009 Hip-Hop Award "Trot" and "Wannabe" Won
2013 Hip-Hop Award Epik High Won
2015 Hip-Hop Award "Happen Ending" Won
Main Prize (Bonsang) Won

KBS Music Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2005 Best Artist Award Epik High Won [43]

Korean Music Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2008 Best Hip Hop Album Remapping the Human Soul Won [44]
Hip Hop Musician of the Year
(Netizen Vote)
Epik High Won

MBC Plus X Genie Music Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2018 Song of the Year "Love Story" (feat. IU) Nominated
Digital Album of the Year We've Done Something Wonderful Nominated
Rap/Hip Hop Music Award "Love Story" (feat. IU) Nominated
Genie Music Popularity Award Epik High Nominated

Melon Music Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2018 Top 10 Artists Epik High Nominated [45]
2019 Best Rap/Hip Hop Award Award "Lovedrunk" (feat. Crush) Won [46]

Mnet Asian Music Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2004 Best Hip-Hop Performance "Peace Day" (평화의 날) Nominated [47]
2005 Best Hip-Hop Performance "Fly" Won [48]
2007 Song of the Year "Fan" Nominated [49]
Best Male Group Nominated
Best Hip Hop Performance Won
Album of the Year Remapping the Human Soul Won [50]
2008 Album of the Year Pieces, Part One Nominated [51]
Best Hip Hop Performance "One" (feat. Ji Sun) Won [51][52]
Best Male Group Nominated
Best Music Video Nominated
Song of the Year Nominated
2009 Best Hip-Hop Performance "Wannabe" (feat. Mellow) Nominated [53]
2010 Best Rap Performance "Run" Nominated [54]
Best Music Video Nominated
2012 Best Rap Performance "UP" (feat. Park Bom) Won [55]
2014 Best Rap Performance "Happen Ending" Won [56]

SBS Music Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2006 Best Hip Hop Artist Epik High Won

Seoul Music Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2007 Best Album Award (Bonsang) Remapping the Human Soul Won [57]
Main Prize (Bonsang) Epik High Won
2012 Main Prize (Bonsang) Epik High Won


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External links[edit]