Review: sleepless in ____ by Epik High

By: Alvindra |

Korean Alternative Hip Hop juggernaut Epik High released their newest project, sleepless in ______ on Monday. The project was officially announced last month after it had been anticipated for almost a year, and Epik High had been teasing us with pictures, videos, and tracklist that announced their upcoming features which include one of the best South Korean music producers, Code Kunst, BTS rapper Suga, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna, R&B Ballad singer Crush, and singer Sunwoo JungA.

sleepless in ______ opens with a monologue by a robotic voice asking about the listeners, or probably Tablo’s condition in the album’s intro track “Sleepless”. Xylophone and Piano rhythm with texting sounds in the background harmonized beautifully, resulting in a serenading noise that matches the depressing set of questions asked by the robotic voice. The short intro quickly transitions to second track “In Seoul”. The track continues to use sleepless as a method to convey its message. In this track Tablo, Mithra Jin, and Sunwoo JungA talk about all the problems that many individuals in Seoul and many big cities around the world face, and how these problems result in many sleepless nights. Piano, synth, and slow drum beats with JungA’s soothing voice continue the sound atmosphere established on the intro. Third track “Lovedrunk” features Crush, who fills the intro, chorus, and outro while Tablo and Mithra Jin rap about the pain of losing someone and the destructive coping method shared by many people. The beat on this track is a soundscape that has been the staple Epik High sound for years, yet still successfully connects with the two previous songs. Fourth track “Eternal Sunshine” features production from Suga. As the beats get more upbeat, Tablo and Jin dive deeper into the previous topics. The Jazz Funk influenced beats act as a cover for the deep, heavy topics, just like how they talk about people putting on a mask everyday to chase a never ending illusion called success. Fifth track “No Different” features Yuna and production from long time collaborator Code Kunst. The R&B Ballad track is the only full English track in the album beside the intro and outro. Tablo and Yuna talk about surviving a rifting relationship and being a support system for each other, which is essentially a situation with no way out. Song “Rain Again Tomorrow” lightens the mood with Tablo and Jin rapping about lighter cause of sleeplessness. The beats on this song are getting upbeat again after it was slowed down slightly in “No Different”. However, the pace goes down again at the end of the song until it fully transitions to outro “Lullaby For A Cat”. Surrounded with piano and violin melodies, he talks about his views and experiences in this messed up world. Tablo keeps his verse short and calm as he lets the sound deliver the message.

Overall, sleepless in ______ is a very solid project by Epik High. They successfully retain the ongoing theme, and the sounds also are consistent. Production wise, we shouldn’t really question Epik High’s quality when it comes to this area. With Code Kunst’s production feature, they successfully deliver a unique and enjoyable atmosphere. Lyrically, Tablo and Jin bring their A game to this project, and vocal features JungA, Crush, and Yuna execute their role perfectly. I really recommend this project, especially if you’re interested in discovering songs from different countries and languages. When it comes to Korean music, Epik High is one of the elite, top level artists and I assure you that the 20 minutes you spent on listening to sleepless in ______ are not wasted and will make you yearning for more Epik High.

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