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20 Years Strong, Epik High Returns with "Strawberry"

By: Kya Brodgon | 5, February, 2023

epik high strawberry
OURS Co. / Genie Music Co. via Spotify

This October marks hip-hop trio Epik High’s 20th debut anniversary, and five days before the beginning of their Europe tour, the group has released their latest EP Strawberry, a 5 song collection filled with wordplay, lyrical gotcha moments, and the signature Epik High confidence fans love. Front man Tablo (who you might recognize from his feature on “All Day” from RM’s Indigo) has never been one to shy away from explicit lyrics in his raps, and this EP is no different.

The first track that caught my eye even before release was “On My Way (Feat. Jackson Wang).” Epik High is no stranger to having features and special appearances by artists on their songs, and Jackson Wang is no stranger to being a featured artist on songs (stream “California” by 88Rising), I was extremely excited to see how these stellar artists would come together and what kind of sound they would produce. And I was not disappointed. After a trippy instrumental opening song, “On My Way” offers a chill yet upbeat R&B vibe coupled with some fun and intense lyrics. The opening of the song, “I'm on my way / I'm on my villain arc” made me laugh so much that I had to start the song over to really appreciate the line delivery. It’s easily my favorite part of the song, followed closely by the anthem-like outro, “I quit my job today (Yeah) / Yeah, I quit my job today (Yeah) / I quit, so go away / 'Cause I'm sick of all these sad songs (Songs) / I quit my job today (I quit my job today) / Yeah, I quit my job today (Yeah) / Tell the boys I'm on my way / 'Cause I'm sick of singing these love songs.” If that’s not a verse you want to sing at the top of your lungs, I’m not sure what is.

Jackson’s verses add another dimension to the song; his vocals are airy and almost dry, which gives the melody a new feeling even though the music itself doesn’t change that much. His voice combined with Tablo’s distinct tone in the chorus is the perfect lead into Mithra Jin’s rap. All in all, this song is easily shooting up the ladder to become one of my favorite Epik High songs, but I don’t think anything can top the masterpiece that is “Bleed.”

The second iconic feature on this EP is “Catch (Feat. Hwa Sa).” In reference to their upcoming tour, “All Time High”, Tablo’s first verse is full of iconic lines like “Wishing that we fail? 그건 망상증 / Epik High (New sh*t to make your car sound good) / It's all time high, baby, I've been on one” (translation: “Wishing that we fail? That's delusional”) and “다들 본 적 없는 나의 성격 지적하네 / 내 MBTI는 IDGAF” (translation: Everyone is pointing out my personality that I've never seen before. / My MBTI is IDGAF.”). Adding to a chorus full of strength, Hwa Sa’s feminine vocals offer a distinct and welcomed contrast to Tablo and Mithra Jin’s verses. “좀 천천히 가도 / 숨이 차, 멈춰 서도 / 잠시 넘어져도 / You'll never catch me / 내 걱정 말고 / 어둠 속에서도 / I'll shine like a diamond / You'll never catch mе” (translation: Even if I go slowly / I'm out of breath, even when I stop / Even if you fall down for a while / You'll never catch me / Don't worry about me / Even in the dark / I'll shine like a diamond / You'll never catch me.”)

This confidence changes from loud and proud to a more quiet, self-assurance in the bridge, when Tablo and Hwa Sa sing, “Call me when you're feeling down / Before you hit the ground / I'll be there to catch you / Baby, when you're feeling down (Yeah, yeah) / I'll always be around (Hey) / To catch you when you fall.” The distinct lyrical difference between the chorus and bridge is interesting to me, and I think it shows how being confident in yourself (the chorus) can lead you to be a catalyst to help others when they need it (the bridge). In an interview with Rolling Stone, Tablo explained how the bridge is “when I’m speaking to my family, friends, fans, or just anyone in general who needs someone to catch them.” I think that’s such a strong message to add to a song that is essentially a groovy middle finger to the haters. Epik High shows in these lyrics that you can have self-confidence and shove it in people’s faces all while helping those that need a bit of a boost, and I love this sentiment.

It is no secret that I am a sucker for lo-fi-inspired songs, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that “God’s Latte” is also making an argument for a place on my favorite Epik High song list. Framed as a conversation with God over a strawberry latte, Tablo asks “맞다, "지옥엔 어떤 사람이 가장 많나요?" /묻고 한 모금 마셨는데 / 그는 한참 대답 없다 말했지 / "Time's up" / 나는 혀를 데었네” (translation: “Right, "Who are the most people in hell?"/ I took a sip. / He said he didn't answer for a long time. / "Time's up" / I burned my tongue.”) In Mithra Jin’s verse, he answers Tablo’s question to God, “진실은 씹어삼키고 아픔만 토해 / 다 같은 지옥 속에 사는데” (translation: “Chew up the truth, throw up the pain. / We all live in the same hell.”) This kind of conversation-esque song is nothing new to Epik High’s discography - “Lesson Zero” comes to mind immediately - and I think “God’s Latte” is a perfect fit for this style of song in the EP. Definitely a song that I will be playing on early evening drives and during late-night gaming sessions.

20 years in the industry, and Epik High has yet to go stale. With multiple songs for every mood and genre taste, the trio is well-set to enjoy their 2023 world tour. Seeing them live in 2022 was a highlight for me, the atmosphere was so comforting and yet so similar to a club feel, I really just let myself go and had so much fun jumping and dancing around to my favorite songs. For dates and city information, click here.


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