[EARGASM] Epik High’s “Shoebox”; a (somehow) detailed album review

Epik High’s return to the music scene was highly anticipated; knowing that they would release a full-length album and a concert tour underway, what more could a fan ask for?

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“SHOEBOX” is a 12-track album that would give you a 360 degree view on how Tablo, Mithra and DJ Tukutz reinvented themselves to prove that they are one of the most sought out artists, ever. I am not saying this in exaggeration; but if you have listened to this album, you’d understand why I’m so confident and hyped about Epik High’s comeback.

Epik-High_1413213161_af_org

ENCORE” gives you the perfect setting for the introduction of the album. It starts off with a string quartet, giving you the feeling of being at a theater. It actually felt like “the end” of the “production” but then they play a certain set of notes/chords that will give you enough reason to stay because it was all an illusion and the best is yet to come. I love the fact that they had a sample of a track from Motown stitched in this song. Motown has perfect and timeless jams that everyone could relate to, I feel like it should be a genre rather than a record company and the statement that it has perfectly matches with the feel that Epik High’s trying to convey. I also like how this song gives emphasis on their comeback. After two years (from their “99” album), they are definitely back; stronger than ever. The second track, “HAPPEN ENDING” (one of the title tracks from SHOEBOX) has that pop, jazzy vibe, although quite upbeat, the lyrics ain’t fun at all. As I describe it, it is as if that those sad lyrics were embraced by a beat that you can’t resist. If you haven’t listened to this track, it is about falling out of love and the art of letting go. And you can never go wrong with Jo Won Son’s voice, like come on! Her voice is precious that it truly matches the track.

RICH” on the other hand is about the bitter reality of trying to fit in. The lyrics are pretty much self-explanatory. I love the fact that it is very straightforward and that it gave a certain picture for listeners to truly understand the song. Despite the glamorous, urban pop jazz feel, the song’s story is not all glamour. This just reminds us that MONEY CAN’T BUY YOU TRUE HAPPINESS, but since were all human beings, there will always be material things that we crave for (to satisfy emotional desires). We can’t really get contented with what he have, there will always be something… (Unless you are one of those people who are at the Physiological stage of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, good for you then! 🙂 ) I think that that’s what we all need to realize. WELL, before I get too emotional (and theoretical) can I just say that Taeyang’s voice brought some extra color to this track. #fangirl

Now, the song that truly made me so sad is “SPOILER“. This is also a title track, alongside Happen Ending, that starts off with Tablo singing the hook accompanied by DJ Tukutz playing the piano so delicately, which will truly get you since it sounded very vulnerable. I admire how Mithra sounded so hurt in this track as well; very convincing and heartwarming. I love how they pour their heart out in each word they rap or sing and in each note or beat they play. It truly makes each song (that they have created) whole and touching to every person. Now, that’s what we call art and dedication. I don’t know if you’ve heard this but right at the beginning of the track, like the second part of the hook, you can actually hear a heartbeat and that was good touch; it made the song complete. (just some random observation right there…) Spoiler is literally about spoilers of the romance slowly fading. What makes it extra heartbreaking is that it is a collective statement of last-minute hopes for a relationship gone hopeless.

If you are looking for a heavy hip hop song from “SHOEBOX”, BURJ KHALIFA is definitely it. This is one of those tracks that would make you feel so bad-ass. And no, they are not talking about the magnificence of the tallest building in the world (with the same name) but it serves as a metaphor about how HIGH you can get from all the sick/dope rhymes that they are busting about how awesome they all are (it was just the perfect punch of self-confidence that you are looking for in a hip hop track). The sound of this song was a perfect mixture of hip hop, rasta/reggae and a hint of Latino music (Yankie’s part). It is fresh, experimental and just mind-blowing.

Do you ever think that you and your partner’s arguments happen ever-so frequently that it became your routine? Well, if you answered yes, that’s how this next song describes your story. “WE FIGHT OURSELVES” is a chill, yet dark, hip hop track that features the angelic voice of Younha, who also featured in Epik High’s song “우산” from their 5th album, Pieces, Part One. The song is about two people who are getting sick and tired of everything that’s going on, in their relationship; it seems like they have both forgotten that love was the primary reason why they are still together. Well, not for long I guess…

The seventh track off this album is darker and it might sound quite rebellious to some. “AMOR FATI” is (track name; also) a Latin phrase meaning love of one’s fate or love of fate. It basically means that one person sees the things that had happened in his/her life, as necessary. Whether it was negative or positive, whether he or she like it or not, all of those were bound to happen. People with this outlook in life doesn’t have the need to change or improve anything because, they believe, that all of those were THERE already; like it was already planned and written; destiny. I honestly had the need to research more about this phrase to be able to further understand the song. And I have to tell you, that it’s not that easy, but this is (I think) the closest I can get: I think that this song is about a troubled soul who has this outlook in life and that all of the misfortunes that he experienced were all written for him. Like, he was just used to it. He is often misjudged as someone who doesn’t yearn for something “better” but instead of gaining help, which he needs, the people who misjudge him will still do things that will make him feel more alone and rebellious about life. The result? A person who doesn’t have enough faith in himself, humanity, life and God. I might have understood this in a different way, but I just felt so bad about the reality that was showcased in this song. Whatever happened to humanity, is definitely taking a toll on someone else’s life and future.

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Now, off to the next song! But first let me breathe, because every time I listen to “BORN HATER“, I just… just watch the MV first guys. Let me breathe… xD

Now that I have calmed down and that you all have watched the music video (again), let me just say that this is definitely my favorite song from SHOEBOX and definitely one of my favorite songs of 2014. What can I say, it’s a very mind-blowing track. It has that late 80s vibe, very Fresh Prince kind of feel (especially with the melody and beat) and everything from the song: the lyrics, the music video, the featuring rappers, the cussing, the beat, the slight humor in the music video, just the overall of the song is hella gooooood. It was like a rap battle against their haters. Like they say, haters gonna hate, but the hated (for all the misunderstood and non-sense reasons) has the right to hit back… harder. ( #ngangaanghaters )

LESSON 5” is part of their “Lesson” series. I believe that “Lesson 4” was released in 2009 ( [e] album ), so it has been quite some time before Lesson 5. I think Tablo mentioned that Lesson 5 was already planned way before SHOEBOX but it was kept for a while since it did not match with what they were about to release before (Please correct me if I am wrong… ^^”) If you have listened to Lesson 1-4, you might recognize that those tracks were more aggressive (even the sound) than this one. Yes, it is still more about IDEOLOGIES and all of the lyrics are intriguing enough to make you more curious about the society. (I honestly had a little difficulty on this one as well, it is a song that can be easily misunderstood. But then again, it is a song about ideas that can actually make people think and not just rebel on current events and uncertainties)

A feel-good hip hop song is always a good option to turn a frown, upside down. “LIFE IS GOOD” features the ever so soothing voice of Jay Park; it is a perfect fit for a chill song like this. This is one of those songs that you can listen to in summertime, chilling at the beach with family and/or peers, just having a good time. I love how the song’s lyrics turned all the negativity of the past into motivation for great success and happiness. Knowing that reality may get shitty, this song just reminds us that despite that, life is good and worth living.

Remember when YG Entertainment released the EYES, NOSE, LIPS cover project? This next song is one of those amazing covers (EYES, NOSE , LIPS: TABLO X TAEYANG). I remember watching the music video and getting into the groove of the song and then, a topless Taeyang shows up… that was unexpected and it went well with it. (Come on, don’t tell me you complained about a TOPLESS YB)

Now back to the song…

It was a different take on the chart topper. I admire how it was significantly different yet it has the same color as the original version. It’s very creative but the story of the song took another route. Instead of the guy being at fault, in this cover, the guy is actually the victim. It just signifies that men are not always the ones who do mistakes which cause a relationship to crumble.

SHOEBOX” (the last song of the album) is one of those urban, chill (I used the word chill, a whole lot in this review.. meh..) songs which makes everything feel just right. It was the perfect song to end the album because it sounded like them being family men (or maybe that was just me); that home is always the perfect place to end a long day’s work.

OVERALL ←

⇒click on the album art to purchase the album on iTunes⇐

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I am in love with this album! It has been on my playlist, on repeat, since I have downloaded it. Every single track was different from the other. It’s like getting a bunch of treats in one whole package. Honestly, I was not expecting that much from Epik High. Their last album was good, but it did not blew me away like SHOEBOX did. Maybe the reason why I was not expecting that much was because I know that Epik High does great songs and that I was not looking forward into the new project because I already knew that it would be just good. But as the release date for Shoebox became certain, I got more excited! Instincts maybe? I also think that this album did JUSTICE since, I think, some fans lost faith on Epik High due to the controversies they’ve gone through. This just proves that they’ve gone through a lot, learned a lot, and diverted all those energy into producing an epic material.

I am really happy with this album. Out of all the albums released this year (not just KPOP/Korean albums), this definitely tops my list. The collaborations are spot on! The music is splendid! The lyrics are (as always) pure genius! (Tablo, Mithra and DJ Tukutz are genius artists! I. CRI.) Every song had a story and each song had a distinct color. It was not just a hip hop album, it is THE hip hop album. I am certain that this is a timeless art which will make you say, “MY HIGH IS EPIK”.

#RESPECT

→ Favorite Lyrics and Song Credits ←

encore

Encore

LYRICS BY TABLO, MITHRA JIN
COMPOSED BY DJ TUKUTZ
ARRANGED BY DJ TUKUTZ
ADDITIONAL MELODY COMPOSED BY TABLO
This track contains a sample of the recording
“I Didn’t Realize The Show Was Over”
(R. Hutch/W. Hutch)
Published by Jobete Music Co., Inc.
as performed by The Miracles.
Courtesy of Motown Records,
a division of UMG Recordings,
Inc. under license from Universal Music Enterprises.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Featuring samples from the Cold Grits recording
“It’s Your Thing” (O. Isley/R. Isley/R. Isley)
Published by EMI Blackwood Music Inc.,
Triple Three Music.
Produced Under License From Atlantic Recording Corp.
by arrangement with Rhino Entertainment Company,
a Warner Music Group Company
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
ALL INSTRUMENTS : DJ TUKUTZ
KEYBOARD/PIANO : PHILTRE
STRING ARRANGEMENT : MR. SYNC
STRINGS : YUNG STRING

happen ending

Happen Ending
LYRICS BY TABLO
COMPOSED BY TABLO, CHOICE37
ARRANGED BY CHOICE37
VOCALS : JOE WON SUN
MELODY COMPOSITION : TABLO
ALL INSTRUMENTS : CHOICE37
TURNTABLES : DJ TUKUTZ
STRING ARRANGEMENT : RTU YOUNG MIN
STRINGS : YUNG STRING
BASS : LEE DONG GEUN

Rich

Rich

LYRICS BY TABLO
COMPOSED BY DJ TUKUTZ, TABLO
ARRANGED BY DJ TUKUTZ
ADDITIONAL RAP WRITTEN BY MITHRA JIN
VOCALS : TAEYANG
MELODY COMPOSITION : TABLO
MELODY VARIATIONS : TAEYANG
ALL INSTRUMENTS : DJ TUKUTZ
KEYBOARD/PIANO : DJ TUKUTZ, JUNG HO KYU
BRASS ARRANGEMENT: MR. SYNC
BRASS : B’sound
BASS : KIM KI WOOK

spoiler

Spoiler

LYRICS BY TABLO
COMPOSED BY TABLO, PK
ARRANGED BY PK
VOCALS : TABLO
MELODY COMPOSITION : TABLO
VOICE ACTING : KONG HYO JIN
ALL INSTRUMENTS : PK
STRING ARRANGEMENT : RYU YOUNG MIN
STRINGS : YUNG STRING

BURJ KHALIFA

Burj Khalifa 

LYRICS BY TABLO, YANKIE, GAEKO
COMPOSED BY TABLO
ARRANGED BY TABLO
ALL INSTRUMENTS : TABLO
TURNTABLES : DJ TUKUTZ

we fight ourselves

We fight ourselves
LYRICS BY TABLO

COMPOSED BY TABLO
ARRANGED BY TABLO
ADDITIONAL RAP WRITTEN BY MITHRA JIN
VOCALS : YOUNHA
MELODY COMPOSITION : TABLO
ALL INSTRUMENTS : TABLO
KEYBOARD/PIANO : PHILTRE
GUITAR : SEO WON JIN
BASS : LEE DONG GEUN, TABLOamor fati

Amor Fati

LYRICS BY TABLO
COMPOSED BY TABLO
ARRANGED BY TABLO
VOCALS : KIM JONG WAN
MELODY COMPOSITION : TABLO
MELODY VARIATIONS : KIM JONG WAN
ALL INSTRUMENTS : TABLO
KEYBOARD/PIANO : PHILTRE

born hater

Born Hater

LYRICS BY TABLO, MITHRA JIN, BEENZINO, VERBAL JINT,
B.I, MINO, BOBBY
COMPOSED BY DJ TUKUTZ, B.I
ARRANGED BY DJ TUKUTZ
VOCALS : B.I
MELODY COMPOSITION : B.I
ALL INSTRUMENTS : DJ TUKUTZ
TURNTABLES : DJ TUKUTZ

Lesson 5

Lesson 5

LYRICS BY TABLO
COMPOSED BY TABLO, PEEJAY
ARRANGED BY PEEJAY
VOCALS : TABLO, Dok2
MELODY COMPOSITION : TABLO
ALL INSTRUMENTS : PEEJAY
TURNTABLES : DJ TUKUTZ

Life is good

Life is good

LYRICS BY TABLO
COMPOSED BY TABLO, PEEJAY
ARRANGED BY PEEJAY
VOCALS : JAY PARK
MELODY COMPOSITION : TABLO
MELODY VARIATIONS : JAY PARK
ALL INSTRUMENTS : PEEJAY

eyes nose lips

Eyes Nose Lips

LYRICS BY TABLO
COMPOSED BY TABLO, TEDDY, DEE.P, REBECCA JOHNSON
ARRANGED BY DJ TUKUTZ
VOCALS : TABLO, TAEYANG
MELODY COMPOSITION : TABLO, TEDDY, REBECCA JOHNSON
PUBLISHED BY
Bekuh Boom Publishing (BMI), ADM., By
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI)/
YG Entertainment Inc.
ALL INSTRUMENTS : DJ TUKUTZ
KEYBOARD/PIANO : PHILTRE
GUITAR : SEO WON JIN
STRINGS : YUNG STRING

shoebox

Shoebox

LYRICS BY TABLO
COMPOSED BY DJ TUKUTZ, MR. SYNC, MYK
ARRANGED BY DJ TUKUTZ, MR. SYNC
VOCALS : MYK, TABLO
MELODY COMPOSITION : MYK
ALL INSTRUMENTS : DJ TUKUTZ
KEYBOARD/PIANO : DJ TUKUTZ
GUITAR : MR. SYNC
STRING ARRANGEMENT : MR. SYNC
STRINGS : YUNG STRING
BASS : LEE DONG GEUN

ARTIST : EPIK HIGH
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER : YANG HYUN SUK
PRODUCERS : TABLO & DJ TUKUTZ
HEAD ENGINEER : MR. SYNC
ADDITIONAL RECORDING ENGINEERS : DJ TUKUTZ,
신성권, 이지훈, 김현주
RECORDING STUDIO : ARK SOUND, YG STUDIO
MIXING ENGINEERS : JASON ROBERTS, MR. SYNC
MASTERED BY : TOM COYNE @ STERLING SOUND, NYC
PHOTOGRAPH : 신선재, 엄미정
STYLIST : 최유미
HAIR STYLIST : 황수진 @ 이가자 헤어비스, 청담동
MAKE-UP : 김미애 @ 이가자 헤어비스, 청담동
ART DIRECTOR : 김해영
ARTWORK & DESIGN : 김지연
ASSISTANT & PROMOTION DESIGN : 최해령
ILLUSTRATION : HYE KHIM
CHIEF MEDIA STRATEGY OFFICER : 이경희
ARTIST MANAGEMENT : 박헌표, 문성조, 김현석, 정희수
DAY-TO-DAY SUPPORTERS : 김현석, 정희수
PROJECT DIRECTOR : 신성진
BRAND STRATEGY : 황미현, 김대현, 최진석, 김제연,
김순영, 장세경
BRAND CONTENTS : 박지영, 이수형
PERSONAL TRAINER : HWANGSSABU
CHIEF OPERATION OFFICER : 최성준
MUSIC BUSINESS & PUBLISHING : 강선영, 김윤정,
정유진, 최은유, 신영주, 김장미
EXECUTIVE SUPERVISOR : YANG MIN SUK

→ I hope that y’all enjoyed my album review! It has been quite some time since I did one and I am ecstatic that I’m back! Again (DISCLAIMER MODE), I am not a music critic, just a lass who really enjoys music and art. So, pardon all my inadequacy and such. ^^”

CREDITS to Epik High’s Official FB account for some of the photos in this post, Epik High’s YouTube page and to Tablo for the English Translations of each song. Also, for my edited photos, I wanna credit the resources where I have gotten some of the original photos. Feel free to use the edits, but please (with cherries on top) don’t remove the credit/watermark. 😉

Stay tuned for more reviews and random shenanigans! Follow us on twitter @TryALittleKpop for more updates!

Thanks for reading and HAPPY HALLOWEEN! 🙂

Aui

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3 comments

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