There is no hip hop act quite like Epik High. Made up of MCs Tablo and Mithra Jin alongside DJ Tukutz, the trio have been shaking up the K-pop industry for more than a decade. With a unique rap-rock sound, Epike High came about organically instead of being placed together by a record label, like most K-pop acts.
"We're not the model K-pop musician," Tablo tells Fuse News host Liz Walaszczyk. "We didn't have a company, we didn't have a manager. We just got together to make music... the way we did it is very different and rare."
Despite their humble beginnings, Epik High found chart success, helping them lead Korean hip hop's international expansion. The trio joined Far East Movement for a joint Stateside tour in 2009 and was the first South Korean act to hit No. 1 on U.S. iTunes' Hip Hop Albums chart with the 2010 LP Epilogue.
Equally remarkable was the group's recovery after a hugely controversial scandal where Internet rumors about Tablo faking his degrees from Stanford got rabid public attention, with thousands calling for the rapper's takedown. "It kind of destroyed my life for two years," he reflects. "It was something the President of Korea had to speak on."
While a bad scandal sometimes signals the end of a K-pop career in the conservative South Korea, Tablo and his bandmates recovered and ended up stronger than ever. They tell Fuse they plan on "doing crazy stuff" in the future. Like what? "Do shows naked!" Tablo decides.
We can't wait, guys.
Don't miss Fuse's interviews with other hip hop heavyweights like Drunken Tiger, Taeyang, Jay Park and TOP from FUSE LOVES SEOUL: From K-Pop to Hip Hop. Plus, take a look through Fuse's K-pop archive right here.