Epik High and being strong

From Epik High's latest album, what can we learn about being strong for yourself?

Image: Epik High Facebook

As the world continues grappling with the effects of COVID-19, creatives and artists have pressed on to continue sharing their craft – Epik High is one such example, releasing their 10th full-length album in January 2021 this year titled “Epik High is Here (Pt 1)”. The trio consisting of DJ Tukutz, Mithra Jin and Tablo, have undergone many trials as a group and even as individuals, ultimately coming out even stronger as they prove in this refreshing, energising album.

Through their songs and the stories within this album, what can we uncover about being strong for yourself?

“I am a legend and I’m here to stay” – Rosario (ft. CL, Zico)

Probably the most hyped song in the lead-up to the album’s release, Rosario’s hook by CL proudly proclaims their self-worth without the need for anyone’s validation. Especially apt that CL made that statement, considering her history in 2NE1 and her bold moves in earlier years to enter the American music industry as a Korean musician!

We usually find it hard to receive compliments, brushing them off as over-exaggerated remarks by well-meaning friends. However, this habit prevents us from truly accepting what we deem as positive aspects of our selves, causing an overemphasis on what we are lacking rather than what we have to offer. It then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where we act in ways that are coherent with these “negative” traits, further reinforcing our self-image as someone who isn’t “good enough”.

Balance is key – if you are someone who connects with the above, then it doesn’t hurt to tell yourself once in a while that you are a legend and here to stay! Accept compliments with a “thanks” instead of “nah you’re too kind” and own every aspect of yourself – the good, the bad and everything in between. No one can take that feeling of autonomy over who you are as a person away from you.

 “먹구름도 구름이었지”
“The dark clouds are still clouds” – 수상소감 (Acceptance Speech) ft. BI

Epik High is no stranger to songs with heavier themes, dealing with topics like depression which are often drawn from their personal experiences. Acceptance Speech opens with Mithra Jin rapping about how he crosses paths with betrayal, followed by Tablo sharing how he struggles with keeping up a facade despite his apathetic outlook towards life.

These signs of lowered mental wellness often lurk around for long periods of time and before we know it, the dark clouds turn into a downpour. Constantly check in with yourself and take note when you find yourself finding it hard to wake up in the morning, not feeling fulfilled emotionally for long periods of time or constantly dreading doing tasks – while we do not need to self-diagnose ourselves with depression, any one of us can still fall into depressive episodes.

Despite the darker tones of this song, they reference their song “Bleed” (from We’ve Done Something Wonderful) through the line “What doesn’t kill me only makes me bloody”, which originally follows up with “so I just bleed on this breakbeat”. On one hand, these albums are still addressing something similar 4 years apart, but on the other, they have their own solution – turning to art to let their emotions out and share it with the world. Depending on what is your cup of tea, never be afraid to confront and even share your emotions. The act of doing so is a form of strength in itself. Start by  understanding your emotions.

 “스트레스 받는 건 내 손해”
“Getting stressed is my loss” – 정당방위 (In Self Defense) ft. CHANGMO, Nucksal & Woo)

“Enough is enough” definitely personifies this song as Epik High teams up with high-octane rappers to callout people that just aren’t worth their time. It follows a general theme of having had enough of bending over for other people who just keep asking for more.

At the end of the day, as much as we want to satisfy others, it is always important to recognise and form your own boundaries in your relationships with others. Learn to recognise when someone rarely shows their appreciation for the efforts you put in and never seem satisfied – the stress you experience is shared only by you alone. If you find that the relationship is not doing either party good, realise that letting go and walking away is an act of strength for yourself.

Again, this is all up to boundaries that you set for yourself and sometimes with the other person(s) as well! Find it in yourself to serve your needs and keep that social distance.

In short:

  1. Embellish your self-talk with compliments 

  2. Find outlets of expression if you notice signs of darker days

  3. Set your boundaries and don’t be afraid to stick to them

These are habits that take time to cultivate, so be patient as you develop them and find that strength that you can own for yourself!


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