Epik High - We've Done Something Wonderful
Epik High has returned once again, and true to their word, they've done something wonderful. Their latest album is an instant hit, with a mixture of their signature sound and fresh experimentation that's sure to win over both fans and casual listeners. As a group that's known what it takes to make a hit song for a long time, Epik High still manages to constantly evolve, which is an impressive and admirable feat in an industry that favors short-but-lively careers. 'We've Done Something Wonderful' is proof that veterans can make some of the most exciting music in their scenes.
'We've Done Something Wonderful' opens with an instant hit to the jugular, with bass pounding and Tablo trading sharp-tongued verses with Mithra. The song continues the group's tradition of making heavy-hitting album openers, and its lyrics are just as potent as its instrumental. "Sometimes to get to God, first you gotta meet the devil," Tablo raps. Tablo is a man of conviction, so when he later continues by saying "I'm face to face with the devil," you believe him. The words make Tablo seem wise and seasoned, almost as if he's gone through a major hardship and managed to triumph after.
The piano melody in "Love Story" with IU makes the first of two title tracks an instant winner. IU sounds mature, right at home over a song that recalls some of Epik High's best earlier collaborations. Somewhere between boom-bap and ballad in style, "Love Story" proves once again that Epik High knows how to pick a good title track.
The follow-up song "No Thanxxx" instantly recalls some of the best cuts from classic acts like A Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets - something Tablo was probably very deliberate and referential about. Once again referencing his demons, Tablo eventually raps "middle finger to the devil, stop f*ckin' up my vibe," which gives the album an interesting continuity. It's worth noting that guest rapper Mino finally restrained himself on a guest feature, although The Quiett manages to cast a spotlight upon himself afterwords with a blistering spot (Simon D was also impressive himself). For some of the older Epik High fans, this track reminds you of the epic lyrical journey from their past tracks when featuring the likes of Dumbfoundead, Kero One, and MYK. Listeners with a certain musical background will definitely appreciate the bassline of this track, and everyone else will probably just enjoy it because it's dirty and danceable.
As the group's career progresses, it's refreshing to see Epik High continually supporting young talent and fellow label mates like Oh Hyuk and Lee Hi. As it turns out, their styles really work together - ever since Tablo wrote for Lee Hi on her early album, they've had a good chemistry together. When observing a group known for their guest features, it's exciting to watch people like Lee Hi become part of the Epik High canon.
Soft vocals processed through a muffled cassette tape haze start off "The Benefits Of The Heartbreak" with Akdong Musician's Soohyun. The whisper rapping and piano combination is familiar for Epik High fans, but they manage to make unique and memorable songs with each album, showing that they can still grow consistently with some common elements in their sound. The breakdown of this song allows listeners to get lost in the production, which is truly a marvel: heavy bass and trap snares juxtaposed against an almost DJ Shadow style of sampling make for one of the most sonically compelling K-Pop records this year.
This album is filled to the brim with genius moments, including a sly reference to "Juicy" by the Notorious B.I.G. in the beat of "Us Against The World", I was humming "It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine" at that part.
In "Bleed," Tablo raps "I'm so sorry for my fans, loving me is hard," but the reality couldn't be further from the truth. Epik High is a group with principles, one that has triumphed through the most difficult of career situations and grown with each project released. They've done indie, they've done mid-card (which itself turned into a cautionary tale about the relationship between artists and labels), and now they're doing major label with the same ambition and heat as when they debuted. If anything, the picture that Epik High paints in late 2017 is now more focused, colorful, and mature than anything they could have done before and the group is in top-form, truly an epic high.