New K-Pop fans might not know Epik High, a legendary trio of hip-hop artists that have been trailblazing for eighteen years.
When Tablo, Mithra Jin, and DJ Tukutz debuted in 2003, K-Pop didn’t have the hip-hop influence it has today, which can be heard in songs by BTS, BLACKPINK, and many more. Like the lyrics of their new single, “Rosario“, say, “I paved the way for everyone that is pavin’ the way.”
“We were anomalies when we started,” Tablo told MTV News. “As time went on and other people started experimenting with different sounds in hip-hop, we became more accepted.”
Epik High is largely responsible for introducing rap and hip-hop into Korea’s pop music mainstream. When asked about K-Pop today, Tablo mentioned BTS’s origins as hip-hop artists.
I think rap and hip-hop are the most popular genres in Korea right now by far. BTS is heavily a hip-hop group as well. The members of the group started off as hip-hop artists, and even when they’ve branched out into other genres, the way they approach lyrics has never left their hip-hop roots behind, and I think that’s why they’re so popular.
He also talked about BLACKPINK and their labelmate seniors BIGBANG. Both YG Entertainment groups have powerful, hip-hop infused tracks.
Major groups like BLACKPINK and BIGBANG have always been hip-hop-based. Now the scene is so huge that there are so many rappers and hip-hop artists that I don’t even know. It’s very vibrant.
In addition to hip-hop, Tabo shed light on why he feels it’s so important for people to support Korean music and Asian culture in general.
I believe that if everyone who is a fan of Korean music in one form or another can all share in this experience and get behind not just Korean music but Asian music, art, films, and culture in general, then these can do even better.
We are having a moment, but I want that moment to become a movement. I really want some 12-year-old with a guitar and a unique sound somewhere in Asia to feel like the path to their dreams isn’t farther than some other kid living in Tennessee. I don’t want anyone of any race to think that their path to their dreams is farther away.