Monday, March 30, 2009

Epik High is the new Radiohead

In 2007, mega band Radiohead embarked on a little music experimentation, where they released their album, In Rainbows, through their own website and "sold" the album as a digital download for as much or as little as customers wanted to pay for the songs. A few months later the album was eventually sold as a physical record, but this experimentation drew lots of attention for Radiohead's attempt to shake up the way music is sold and distributed.

You may have never heard of the Korean hip hop band Epik High, but they're taking a chapter from Radiohead's book, and hoping to revolutionize the Korean music industry. Without being signed to a label, and thus not having to take orders from the powers that be, they've decided to sell their latest album (slash book), Map the Soul, exclusively through their website and iTunes. It's a big step for a Korean music act, as no one in that industry has undertaken anything like this.

In addition to their independence being a big "Eff You!" to an industry that is becoming increasingly market driven and less creativity driven, it is also Epik High's attempt at globalization, by making their music more accessible for a wider audience. Their website is in both Korean and English (there's a lot of good stuff on it). You can also follow them on Twitter, or look them up on their own YouTube channel. Whether their experimentation is successful or not, I think Epik High can give themselves a pat on the back for continuing to move the Korean music industry forward, and being a voice for all those artists who don't belong in the cookie cutter mold that Kpop has become. Map the Soul is available now.

I'm personally a huge fan. I first got into them in 2005, when I was in Korea. A group of us had stumbled into a J├Ągermeister party (it was the first time the liquor was being sold in Korea, so naturally they had a party celebrating it), and lo and behold, Epik High was the celeb host. IT WAS SO EXCITING- this picture is from that night (ignore the fruity guy on the left, he was like the MC or something). I listened to them so much that my friends in Korea think of me when they think of them. Epik High is the one group who has consistently put out quality music, and they really get what it means to serve the fans. I really hope that this brings them a new boatload of fans who will appreciate their sound. The buzz is building, over 300,000 people visited the website when it launched earlier this month, causing it to crash, so I think they're in good shape.

Below is their new music video for the single, Map the Soul.


john said...

i stopped listening to korean music a while back. couldn't stand the similar beats/melodies, overly pop, etc etc. i guess when you are younger you dont appreciate music for what it really is worth.

but i listened to this new album from epik high and its pretty good. before they were just another korean group to me. dont know if its the lack of a label giving em more freedom in their music. but this new album reminds me of that philly style hiphop. i.e. roots. i love it.