Thursday, November 10, 2011

Album Review: Tablo's Fever End

Rapper and member of Epik High, Tablo just came back with a solo album under YG Entertainment while the other two members are off in the military. His signing to one of the big three caused quite a heated discussion among K-pop fans. But that doesn't matter anymore once the album came out. This album is definitely one great album to respark his career. And the title, 열꽃 (Fever's End) is the perfect for the situation.

I've never really a huge fan of Epik High. I liked, and even loved, a few of their songs. "The Future" from their Volume 5 Pieces, Part One is one of my most favorite songs ever. Seriously, it's so good. But I haven't really been hooked on all of their songs. I'm not a big fan of hip hop as a whole so that's probably a big factor in the whole thing. So listening to Tablo's new album, I approached with care. I heard so many good things about it from so many people so I gave it a try. And I have to say, this album is really good. Great, even. Let's begin.

The part one of the album starts out with "집 (Home)" featuring the lovely voice of Lee Sora. This song surprised me a lot. It was different than my expectations of hip hop. When I think of hip hop, I would think of heavy beats but surprisingly, this song has none. It was all piano from the start. Like Tablo was reciting a poem over classical music. A soft beat came when the marvelous Lee Sora started singing. Then the song made a 180 with at about the 3:20 mark and went rocker which I thought was really cool.

The second track, "나쁘다 (Bad)" is actually the title track for part one of the album. The song features the eerily beautiful voice of Jinshil. She sounds a little like Feist perhaps. It talks about how love can make people do bad things. Different from the first track, this one has that signature beats of hip hop. As usual, Tablo's rapping is as smooth as silk.

I actually thought "Airbag" would be the title track of the album because it was released first. Plus, it features a vocalist of one of my favorite Korean group, Brown Eyed Soul. I always thought Tablo's rapping was on the softer side as in his voice isn't as gangster as my initial thought a rapper should be. And Naul's glorious voice just completes this song so much.

One thing that I love about "밀물 (Flood)"  is the music. Wow, this is totally something I'd listen to a million times. It says the scratch was done by DJ Friz so I guess I have to thank him for that. I can't really describe this song to my fullest ability. Can I say psychedelic? In a sense it is like that. Oh, maybe hypnotizing. At least to me.

Maybe I'm just someone who likes weird beats, but "밑바닥에서 (From the Bottom)" featuring Bumkey is another song I found with such engaging beats. It just adds another dimension to this song. And Bumkey, wow, his voice is good. I feel this song has a sentimental value to Tablo, as it also features his daughter saying "dad" (in Korean of course) for the first time.

"Tomorrow" starts of the album part two. The song features yet another singer, this time member of idol group Big Bang and fellow label mate, Taeyang. He has such an engaging voice and this song showcased it very well. Again, talking about beats, the song features a more prominent drum set beat, with emphasis on the base on a occasion (or was that timpani? Or some exotic drum?), which was a lovely touch.

"출처 (Trace)" sounds like something Epik High would whip up on their daily basis. It's more evident since the scratch was done by Epik High's own scratch maker, DJ Tukutz. It's more scratched than the previous scratched song and reminiscent of Epik High's earlier works.

I love the intro for "Dear TV / 해열". It's so engaging. The song is rapped in English which is refreshing and mind opening, mostly because I actually understand. The rapping itself is only about a third of the song. The rest is filled with the same sounds as the engaging intro, so it's fulfilling.

Acoustics welcome you to "고마운 숨 (Thankful Wind)" which also features Yankee and Bong Tae-gyu. Bong's voice sounds very band vocalist to me. I know that's a very weird, if not stereotyping, but I say this is good. It serves very well to the acoustic guitar in the background.

One thing I was quite impressed with this album was how many people contributed to this album. But "유통기한 (Expired)" is all Tablo. Not only song-wise, but also message-wise. This song is his confessions, and quite personal. It speaks of his fears, which is different from the strong, indifferent image I have of him. I guess it would be unfair to think of him like that. He is human after all. And in this song, he bares it all. Well, not all, but definitely things you wouldn't normally hear this man confess.

I like the sounds of this album. A lot. It includes a lot of great beats, melodies. But at the end of the day, it's the message that captures everyone's heart. Epik High, which includes Tablo himself, is notorious for pointing out all the faults in this whacked-out world. Now, with this album, he decided to point out the faults of himself or just regular people and their personal faults. It's a refreshing thing. I wished I could understand the lyrics though. Not from lyric translations but from its original Korean. Because if I could, I know I would have appreciated more than I do now.

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