Tablo and HIGHGRND
Before leaving the company, Epik High Tablo got an important role in YG Entertainment. He was put in charge of one of YG Entertainment’s first sublabels called HIGHGRND, which operated in the early of 2015. This was proof that YG Entertainment has trust in both Tablo’s musical ability and his ability to lead their very first independent sublabel.
HIGHGRND had been the house for some Korean indie artists, such as HyukOh, Code Kunst, The Black Skirts, and so on. HIGHGRND and Tablo also took the chief role in the production of Lee Hi’s second album. Following its success, YG Entertainment formed more sublabels, such as The Black Label and PSYG.
At this time, Channel-Korea will inform you more about Tablo and the history of HIGHGRND. Let’s check it out!
Everything You Need to Know About HIGHGRND
HIGHGRND, or can be spelled as ‘High Ground’, is YG Entertainment’s independent sublabel which was formed in March 2015 and lead by Epik High Tablo. The sublabel was founded by Tablo, and with the permission of Yang Hyun-suk the label became an umbrella for artists with ‘underground’ talent. The goal was to nurture this talent and bring it up into the ‘high ground’ by developing and promoting those artists.
The label was mainly focused on artists who performed alternative and indie rock genre of music, which really suits Tablo’s musical origins. As Tablo had full creative control of the artists’ projects, the label was meant to expand YG’s musical genre spectrum and touch the new tastes of music.
The connection to the main label YG Entertainment remained strong. The main label’s primarily supportive role focused on financial assistance, administrative work, and marketing. Tablo was also given the trust to lead Lee Hi’s second album project titled Seoulite which was released in March 2016.
There were some incredible artists who had been forested by HIGHGRND. They were rumored to have moved to different labels after Tablo’s departure. Here are the artists:
HyukOh is HIGHGRND’s first official artist which was announced in 2015 via Tablo’s Instagram account. The band consists of Oh Hyuk as the vocal, guitarist, and songwriter, Lim Hyun-jae as lead guitarist, Im Dong-gun as the bassist, and Lee In-woo as the drummer. HyukOh’s most popular songs are: “Wi Ing Wi Ing”, “Comes and Goes”, and “Tomboy.”
Before joining HIGHGRND, they already existed as a band in 2014 lead by Oh Hyuk, which made his name as the group name. The band itself was formed by coincidence so they always stand by their own principles. They don’t make one genre of music, but anything could be possible as they want. They were also not made by the company, but they independently chose their path and activities.
The Black Skirts
The Black Skirts is a one-man band, formed by Jo Hyu-il or also known by his English name Bryan Cho. He is an indie rock musician based in South Korea who can play various instruments, such as the guitar, the bass guitar, the keyboards, and percussions, and can even sing as well.
His musical tastes are highly influenced by American music since he used to live in New York City. He originally formed a punk rock band with two of his friends in 2004, but the band dissolved due to the members’ desire to pursue their individual activities. He then returned to South Korea and released a few albums.
In 2016, he decided to join the label HIGHGRND. Under the label, he released the album Team Baby on whose cover is Jo’s parents. In 2018, he left HIGHGRND and started to work under his own company Doggy Rich in partnership with the label BESPOK.
Code Kunst, or also known by his real name Jo Sung-woo (born on December 18th, 1989) is a South Korean composer and music producer. His work is classified under the hip-hop genre and he was a judge in the reality survival music show Show Me The Money 777 alongside Paloalto.
He joined HIGHGRND in September 2017 and released his third studio album under the company on February 28th, 2017, titled Muggle’s Mansion. Code Kunst left the HIGHGRND label and moved to AOMG in June 2018.
Jung Hyun-tae (born on November 17th, 1993), or better known by his stage name Incredivle, is the first rapper to join the sublabel HIGHGRND, on March 28th, 2016. Incredivle was found when he participated in the survival show Show Me The Money 4, as he joined team YG after the program ended. Incredivle also featured in one of Lee Hi’s songs from the album Seoulite titled “Official.” You can see his recent activities through his personal Instagram account @incredivle.
The other rapper who had signed with HIGHGRND was Punchnello, a South Korean solo rapper and producer who rose to fame after joining the sublabel. Punchnello is a man with an excellent rapping talent, stage presence, sensuous music along with his warm appearance. He released some very popular tracks, such as “Corona,” “Null,” and “Pretty Boy Fly” under the label. For now, he is known to have joined AOMG, the record label that is led by Jay Park. Find out what he shares recently on his personal Instagram account @fkuropinion.
Offonoff is a hip-hop duo, consisting of Colde (Kim Hee-su) as a songwriter and vocalist, and DJ O’Channel (Seo Ji-ho) as a producer. They were both born in 1994, and used to be members of the hip-hop crew Club Eskimo, formed by Dean in 2015. Colde and DJ O’Channel were founded by Dean through their channel on Soundcloud.
Offonoff joined the YG sublabel HIGHGRND in 2016, and released their singles titled “Photograph” and “Moon.” In 2017, they released their second album titled Boy and featured some popular K-Pop hip-hop stars, such as Dean, Miso, Punchnello, Rad Museum, and Epik High Tablo. Colde also released his solo single project in 2018 titled Your Dog Loves You featuring Crush. Catch up with their activities on @realoffonoff!
Millic, or Cheon Seung-hyun, is a South Korean producer that used to be under HIGHGRND. He was also the third hip-hop artist to have joined the HIGHGRND family, and is of the same age as Punchnello. Under the label, he released his debut album in July 2017, titled Vida with the title track “Paradise.” He was also part of Club Eskimo.
Tablo Resigns from the CEO Position and Closes Down Rumor
On July 18th, 2017, a piece of shocking news came from Epik High Tablo as he said that he has resigned from his position as the CEO of HIGHGRND. This was quite sad, since we were able to see his pure spirit provide opportunities for the underground musicians to rise and shine, such as Hyukoh, Code Kunst, Millic, etc. Tablo said he decided to focus on Epik High’s comeback, but he will still indirectly provide continuous support for HIGHGRND artists and freely give his help to them.
After the release of the shocking news, HIGHGRND seems to have no activities to this date. The office in Hongdae, Seoul is rumored to be closed and it has no staff left. The only things that have remained from HIGHGRND are the artists and the manager. YG Entertainment seems to have borrowed some of their staff members to help HIGHGRND artists run their usual activities. Until now, neither YG Entertainment nor HIGHGRND representatives have released an official statement regarding the artists’ future or the replacement of Tablo’s position.
So, what do you think about HIGHGRND and the future of the artists? Let’s keep supporting them and kindly share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!