Epik High "99" Album Review

Saturday, November 03, 2012

I love Epik High. While Big Bang might be the male group I actually fangirl over, then Epik High is the Korean group I respect the most. Their music never fails to impress me, from melody to the rapping to the lyrics. So yes, I love them. Which is why I was absolutely thrilled to hear that they were going to release an album. When Tablo signed with YG Entertainment and released his solo work I got worried that Epik High might break up. But upon hearing that the whole group also joined YG I was a happy camper. And now they're out with the new album "99"

(If you're wondering where the name comes from then here's an extract from WikipediaAccording to YG Entertainment’s official Facebook, the Epik High members named the album ’99′ for a number of reasons: their love of the number “9″, the 9 songs in the album (plus one short track), and the aim to “embrace the meaning of music” for 99% of people, not the top 1%.)
The entire album in more positive tones than was Tablo's solo work last year. You can sense 90s pop-rock influences, but I wouldn't say it's a bad thing. Fans usually expect their favourite artists to stick to the same kind of music their entire careers, but I believe that artists want and need to try something new every once in a while. The most important thing is that they themselves enjoy what they're doing, and I think this is the case with this album. The inspiration for this album comes from a different place than it did before. But it is expected since they are older now and have gone through many changes since, both artistically and personally.

[NOTE: Some of the videos below will probably be taken down soon, so listen to them while you still can.]

"UP" (feat Park Bom)

The first title track "Up" didn't immediately wow me, but it grew on me quickly. I like Park Bom's powerful chorus and that the song is somewhat similar to one of Epik High's previous works "Fly", which I (naturally) love. They both have this motivational message encouraging to "fly higher" and keep living on in the hopes that the next day will be easier. I always love inspirational songs, especially in the mornings when I need something to get me up and going. Anyways, the lyrics are, as always, well written:

"You’re tired, right? Put the past behind
I don’t even know why I was scared anymore
There are enemies in front of me
But behind there’s only dogs I fly high. Look up.
I try like flapping my wings 100s of times
Even if I’m afraid of failure."
(Full lyrics here at Kpoplyrics.net)

And I love how they have sneaked in these little references (whether intentionally or unintentionally) of their past songs like: "But behind there’s only dogs I fly high. Look up."- "Fly" and "I don’t die. No pain, no gain. Just hold it in. No rain, no rainbow." - "Umbrella".
The music video is great, despite being less twisted and dark than their older ones (I like dark and twisted). While I really don't think that YG has changed their music, I do think that it does go for the music videos. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. I usually like YG Entertainment artist's music videos. I love the colours the setting in "Up" and I think the sports theme really brings out the meaning of the song. I don't know all the references, but I did caught the reference to the fencing controversy. So, despite looking a lot more polished, the video isn't empty in meaning.

"Don't Hate Me"

"Don't Hate Me" is the song that reflects the most what Epik High currently feels. The lyrics pretty much describe the aftereffects of the Tajinyo saga. I like when I can recognize what has inspired an artist and with Epik High I can always see that they sing/rap about their own lives and experiences. I kinda dig that they decided to make this a more upbeat song, than a depressing one. It's like - I know you all hate me, but screw you. I have my people around me to support me:

"They only nag me as if mistakes are faults
They hammer my mouth as if I am a nail
Only my tear flows in my heart filled with holes
Shouldn’t I smile? Why only me?
You said there is no reason to hate someone?
Why are there thousands of reasons in my case?"
(Full lyrics here at Kpoplyrics.net)

The music video is perfect for Halloween, which makes it perfect for me. I love scary stuff and the cute children dressed up as little monsters is so adorably creepy. There are so many little details in the video that I just suggest you all have a look at it yourself. It's really fun. 
Oh, and in case you're wondering how many of them little monsters there are, I'll just list them: Joker and Two-Face from the Batman series, Lady Gaga, G-Dragon's "One Of A Kind" concept, Damien form The Omen, Tony Montanta from Scarface, Agent Smith from Matrix, Jason from Friday The 13th, Han from Enter The Dragon, Alex from Clockwork Orange, Alonzo from Training Day, Hannibal Lecter from The Silence Of The Lambs, Chucky from Child's Play, Jigsaw from Saw, Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men.


"Wrong" starts out with a beat that is very reminiscent of 80s-90s pop music, but the overall effect is actually quite modern. Not my favourite track, but still quite okay to listen to.
The song lyrics are basically describing an argument between lovers and how each person says things that they don't really mean. Ultimately, the narrator wants to take it all back and say sorry, but inevitably the harm has already been done:

"Without realising myself, wrong wrong wrong. I`m sorry.
Though I knew, wrong wrong wrong again.
I love you. Thank you so much.
I wanted to say it.
Now, you’re not there to listen."
(Full lyrics here at Kpoplyrics.net)

"It's Cold" (feat Lee Ha Yi)

This is the track that characterises the old Epik High we know and have loved their entire career. Lee Ha Yi's vocals are incredibly pretty in the chorus and it's amazing how powerfully they can sound despite her super delicate voice. It's, without a doubt, the most beautiful track from this album. 
I love the lyrics  for "It's Cold", how the coldness equals to sadness and depression, and how the melody and the overall feeling of the song emphasizes this:

"The blooming spring doesn’t come anymore
Cherry blossoms fall like snowflakes, it’s cold here
Sunshine falls like a snowstorm, it’s only cold for me
If I touch anything, it freezes so I’m afraid to hold your hand
Because if you come close to me, your heart might catch a cold too"
(Full lyrics here at Kpoplyrics.net)

"You Don't Deserve Her" (feat Gaeko)

This is the only a capella song from the album, also featuring some awesome beatbox and  great vocals by Supreme Team's Gaeko. However, I don't really feel this song yet. I do like the chorus and all, but I think I need the song to grow on me a bit more. Though I can appreciate how different it sounds from the rest of the tracks in this album. It's a nice change.
Like the title suggests, the lyrics are about a woman who is hopelessly in love with a guy who doesn't deserve her. And though the main narrator in the song can accept that she doesn't like him either, he just can't accept her being with that guy:

"His heart is the ruins of love that has left
It’s full of sharp nails
It’s clear that he’ll cut you and leave you with a scar
Why are you so desperate?
Even if you reach out with your hands, you’ll only cause smoke
Your eyes will sting."
(Full lyrics here at Kpoplyrics.net)

"Get Out The Way"

This one's has the most obvious hip-hop sound, with a great beat and fiercely quick rapping sequences. It's also something I would expect from their old albums, but at the same time it does not have that addictive effect on me.
However, since I have no access to the English translation of the lyrics, I can't comment on the meaning yet. Will update as soon as someone translates the lyrics.

"The Bad Guy/Villain"

"The Bad Guy" continues with the Halloween theme. It's a song with a retro concept and with lots of references to the famous movie villains. Actually, from the first notes I was immediately reminded of the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino films. The instrumental has this quirky retro effect that the music in Tarantino's films have, indicating that this is where the inspiration came from. Especially since Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill are clearly referred to in the song. 
The lyrics are mischievous and a bit funny. In fact, it's a bit of a trivia trying to guess all the villains. There's pretty many, for instance four in this sequence:

"The world is mine. My greed overflows in my hands.
So what if I’m crazy with ambition? I’m Tony Montana.
I puff up my willpower by refusing to give in.
A criminal who uses his brain.
I’m like Bane who snaps the wings of bat-like dreams.
Locking me up with prejudice is the wrong way to handle me.
Hannibal Lector, who swallows two ears with his voice.
A villain who only aims for villains.
I feel disgusted.
Mmm… Dexter, who makes even the evil seem like the good."
(Full lyrics here at Kpoplyrics.net)

"Kill This Love" 

This song is with a more electronic beat and modern-sounding, but despite the fact that I don't usually like very electronical songs "Kill This Love" instantly had me. I'm not saying it is the best song from the album, but it is something that I like to listen to. I do like the background melody, which is the same we can hear in "Don't Hate Me".
The lyrics are pretty morbid, with repeating the line "Kill this love" and sneaking in the reference to the movie/book The Shining with the line "redrum"(murder). But I like the rap sequences that are still very poetic: 

"Every rainy night, you come looking for me again.
The pieces of memories, buried deep in my heart, fly towards me like an arrow.
You used to be my dream, so why?
You become a nightmare every night again.
You push me off into despair, when I don’t even have wings.
Please answer me that it’s over now."
(Full lyrics here at Kpoplyrics.net)

"New Beautiful"

The beginning of "New Beautiful" kinda reminds me of MGMT's "Kids" and since I like that song this one also stuck a chord with me. This one is another empowering and inspirational track from the album, very fitting to listen when you're having a crappy day.
So differently from "Up" these lyrics are more about the unrealistic beauty standards of the today's society. But the "ugly" in the song can also be replaced with being an outcast or being different from others, which I think makes this song very relatable for many:

"You’re not ugly
The world’s standards are too high
You are beautiful.
You don’t know me, you can’t see me
It doesn’t matter, I like myself."
(Full lyrics here at Kpoplyrics.net)

The verdict: 

A bit different from what I expected this album to be. Truthfully, I thought the album would be as dark and gloomy as Tablo's "Fever End" last year. But now thinking about it I don't find myself to be disappointed. I like that Epik High doesn't want to be too depressive with their music. They know how to make good music that speaks to the crowds but does not put them in a mopey mood. The album is very enjoyable. It really is. Since Epik High, especially Tablo, have been through so much crap these past years this more fun and light album is very welcome. This is the kind of music you want to listen when you need cheering up. It's like Epik High not only wants to cheer up the fans, but also themselves. 
My favourite track from this album are the two title songs "Up" and "Don't Hate Me", "It's Cold", which is more similar to their usual musical style, "Kill This Love" and "New Beautiful". But I think other songs are slowly growing on me too. Or if they don't, it's okay. I don't need to love each every song.

So, I can't speak for everybody, but I personally am happy with "99". It's different, but I can still clearly hear the essence of Epik High in this album too. Especially in the song lyrics that are still meaningfully written by Tablo and Mithra. Though I would have liked to hear more of DJ Tukutz's creative portion. 
I probably will always love their previous works more (after all those were the ones that got me in), but I think I'd be less impressed when they'd always stay the same and would be afraid to try new things. This album shows that Epik High still works hard with their music and doesn't play safe. I can appreciate that, artistic growth is always good.  

You Might Also Like


Do share your thoughts!

Copyright © 2018 POPdramatic. Powered by Blogger.