Fight off Sleepless Nights with Epik High
Inspired by many sleepless nights, legendary hip-hop trio Epik High released their latest EP, sleepless in __________, on March 11. This release marks their first as an independent act in several years after parting ways with YG Entertainment in 2018; having taken the reins into their own hands, the results are nothing short of mesmerizing. As any music lover can attest, there is nothing more satisfying than an album that flows effortlessly from start to finish, and with sleepless in __________, Epik High delivers nonstop success.
The tone of the album is set with a short intro titled “Sleepless” that features an automated voice set over muted piano. The English lyrics sound something like a late-night infomercial for the lonely:
Do you have trouble sleeping
Do you have nightmares
Are you heartbroken
Do you feel down, depressed, hopeless
Do you miss someone
Do you find that things you once enjoyed no longer interest you
Are you lonely
Are you always sleepless
Transitioning seamlessly into the second track, “In Seoul,” the theme of insomnia takes front and center with the help of vocalist Sunwoo Junga. The song is closer to the lo-fi spectrum of hip-hop, with Mithra Jin and Tablo’s verses layered over DJ Tukutz’s soft electronic beat. Don’t be fooled by the calming instrumentals, though; this song is saturated with a certain restlessness about life that will keep you up tossing and turning at night.
“Lovedrunk,” the title track of the album, features R&B soloist Crush in a song about nursing a heartbreak with alcohol. Compositionally, the song is simple with only minimal percussion and piano that allows the verses and Crush’s signature crooning to take the spotlight. The album’s star-studded lineup of guest artists had hype for this release at an all-time high, and it’s nice to see Crush’s talent utilized so masterfully on this track about an unhealthy love—leave it to Epik High to come up with the best collaborations.
BTS’s SUGA co-produced the next track, “Eternal Sunshine,” a guitar-driven, cathartic song that serves as the high-point in the album in terms of mood. Whereas the previous songs seem more intimate, “Eternal Sunshine” is more sympathetic, offering a comforting yet sad message to which listeners can relate.
“No Different” takes things back to a more somber note as Tablo goes solo with this all-English track about a failed relationship, featuring Yuna and co-produced by CODE KUNST. Epik High is a group known for their lyricism and this track is “no different” with striking lines such as “I might not be the one, could you settle for half?” that resonate only too close to home for many. A little more on the upbeat side is “Rain Again Tomorrow,” a deceitfully pleasant song that’s more melancholic than anything as Tablo and Mithra Jin trade verses about being resigned to a dull, metaphorically rain-filled life.
One of the highlights of the album is the slow transition from “Rain Again Tomorrow” into the album’s closing track, “Lullaby For A Cat.” This lo-fi, string-infused song is reminiscent of the opening track “Sleepless” that brings the album full circle. As stated in an interview with Billboard, the song is based on Tablo’s experience where he rented a room from an older lady whose nine cats kept him company on sleepless nights. Tablo further said that the outro was meant to represent the shift “when someone goes from sleeplessness to the moment where they fall asleep.” In this way, “Lullaby For A Cat” sounds like what the whole album has been leading up to, leaving listeners with a lighter chest as the track fades into silence.
The music video for “Lovedrunk” is more short film than music video, and stars none other than IU alongside actor Jin Seoyeon as martial artists. As is not the usual case, the song is set to feel more like a soundtrack to the film rather than the music video being a visual counterpart of the music. With stunning black-and-white shots and excellent acting from the two leads in spite of having no lines, the video for “Lovedrunk” escalates the song to a new level, adding an even deeper layer of artistic wonder to an already incredible release from Epik High.
As musicians, Epik High has never been a group to disappoint and it’s great to see that the trio’s streak of success remains unbroken. With a release as solid as sleepless in __________ this far into their career, it’s safe to assume Epik High is still on the upswing, no matter how many sleepless nights they have to endure.