South Korean hip-hop trio Epik High turns 20. This is how they are celebrating.

Epik High has been dubbed to be one of BTS' “largest inspirations”, with members likening the trio as catalysts to their music journey.

Vanessa Grace Ng

| November 6, 2023
Epik High
Epik High. Photo: Press

Can one call themself a KHH fan without knowing of the legend of Epik High?

KHH — an abbreviation for Korean Hip-Hop — is a genre that dates back to the ’90s, where acts like Tiger JK and Dynamic Duo paved the way for newer, household acts like DPR Live, SIK-K, DEAN and Jay Park.

Epik High, a trio act comprising DJ Tukutz, Mithra Jin and frontman Tablo, sits somewhere in between in the timeline, soon reaching their 20th year since its debut release, Map of the Human Soul (2003). Though illustrious acts have preceded, the impact, reach, and sheer legacy of Epik High remains uncontested; the group can be credited for shaping much of South Korea’s musical scene today.

The group has achieved many firsts — including being the first Korean act to perform at Coachella. The band has been dubbed to be one of global group BTS’ “largest inspirations”, with members Suga and RM both likening the trio as catalysts to their music journey.

In terms of pop culture’s favourite, collaborations, the trio have also dispensed song after song with some of the most prolific in the Korean music industry. Notably, there has been Rain Song (2021) with Colde, Can You Hear My Heart (2016) with Lee Hi, Born Hater (2014) with Beenzino, and even collaborations with BTS — Tablo appeared on RM’s All Day (2022), while Suga produced the group’s Eternal Sunshine (2017) track.

Now in the lead-up to their 20th anniversary, Epik High ventures into Caratland — tapping into the celebrity of Hoshi of Seventeen to produce Screen Time (2023). The collaboration does not seem random: Hoshi went viral in 2021 for enthusiastically referencing Epik High, essentially adding to the lore of the band’s 20-year legacy.

The lo-fi single is a moody and pensive string-backed melody, composed and arranged by Tablo, written by Tablo and Mithra Jin and complemented by the Seventeen dance leader’s smooth vocals.

But the band’s collaboration with Hoshi is just the one in the slew of many celebratory activities they have lined up for their 20th anniversary. To commemorate, Epik High has teased the Park Kyu Bong — an ironic take on the K-Pop mainstay that is the lightstick.

Park Kyu, a hangul euphemism for the English-phonetic swear counterpart, features a distinct middle-finger body; designed to halo at the group’s 20th anniversary three-day mega-concert held at Seoul’s Olympic Park Handball Stadium. “Our guest lineup for [our Korean] shows [are] INSANE”, said Tablo in a tweet earlier this month, a possible explanation for the already sold-out status of all three nights.

Epik High
Epik High’s 20th-anniversary concert poster. Photo: Press

Yet, High Skool (Epik High’s fanbase) can look forward to much more from the group — “if u think 20 yrs in will slow us down, u are dead wrong”, said the frontman in another tweet. In the official Screen Time timetable, “a shitton of content from this point on” is to come.

So pre-order your Park Kyu Bongs and gear up for perhaps another Epik 20 years with the group.

This article originally appeared on Men’s Folio.


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