What’s better than one K-pop vet returning to the game? Three such artists teaming up for a Latin-tinged hip-hop track that showcases the seamless way in which Korean artists are weaving their way through different genres to serious success.
“Rosario” is the first single from hip-hop trio Epik High’s 10th studio album, Epik High Is Here (Part 1), and it features CL and Zico, who started their careers within the traditional group format 10 years ago as leaders of 2NE1 and Block B. The vocalists trade verses for a song that’s at once sweet and aggressive. As Epik High frontman Tablo says, “Rosario” is “the soundtrack that plays when you get your sweet revenge on your biggest enemy.”
The song kicks off with flamenco-style guitar and a soft intro by CL, before Tablo quickly changes the mood with a piercing verse over a rollicking beat. Zico then showcases his trademark flow on a fast-paced rap verse addressing the success he’s had despite some criticism.
Mithra Jin leans in with an all-Korean verse that puffs up his chest against those who doubted him, chanting, “Even if I spend all my life working hard to build a tower/The world would tear it down/But I lay yet another stone.”
CL belts out the empowering lyrics with the chorus “Out of my way, I am a legend and I’m here to stay” throughout the track. The lyrics “weren’t directed at anyone specific,” CL tells Rolling Stone. “It was just me hyping myself up during my own struggles and telling myself to fight against any fears — which anyone, even those not in the industry, can relate to. We are all legends in our own way and deserve to say: ‘I am a legend and I’m here to stay.'”
Tablo adds his own take with lines in the final the chorus: “I paved the way for everyone that is pavin’ the way,” he raps, addressing the discussion among some K-pop fans of just who paved the way for other groups in the industry.
Tablo, Mithra Jin, and fellow Epik High member DJ Tukutz all had a hand in the creation of “Rosario,” sharing the writing and production credits with producer Mighty Mike. For listeners wanting to explore Korean music beyond the pop genre, the dark, hard-hitting hip-hop approach of Epik High as heard here are a good place to start.
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