Epik High Teams up with Azuki NFT for Visual Art Collab at Coachella

Hannah Scherwatzky / ONE37pm

After stunning crowds with its stage visuals featuring Azuki NFTs during Weekend 1, Epik High will be back on April 22 for another performance at Coachella Weekend 2.

The Korean hip-hop trio—made up of members Tablo, Mithra Jin, and DJ Tukutz—is best known for its willingness to push boundaries for Asian artists.

Epik High was the first Korean act to play at Coachella in 2016, opening the doors for future Korean acts at mainstream festivals.

Now the group’s return this year marks another historic moment, as the first Korean act to return to Coachella for the second time.

How did this collab come to be?

Tablo, rapper and leader of Epik High, says he saw this moment as an opportunity to do something original.

He wanted to showcase Asian and Asian American artists in a mainstream platform while bridging web3 and the real world; that’s why he decided to partner with NFT collection, Azuki.

Azuki NFT's Success

Azuki has seen a meteoric rise this year, currently topping OpenSea charts as one of the most popular NFT collections with the highest trading volume.

The entire collection has seen an unprecedented surge in price in the recent month. A rare Azuki NFT recently sold for over 420.7 ETH, equivalent to approximately $1.4 million USD, on OpenSea.

Azuki artist and co-creator Arnold Tsang, also known as “Steamboy,” was already a well-established artist before starting the NFT project. He is best known for his work as former character art director for Overwatch.

However, Tablo says he had planned this collaboration with Azuki long before the project exploded in popularity.

“I’ve been a fan of ‘Steamboy' since he was doing comics,” Tablo said.

I’ve just always appreciated his art and the vision behind it.

- Tablo

This isn’t the first time Epik High has worked to uplift Asian artists. The trio most recently collaborated with digital artist Ardhira Putra, on the visuals for their song “Super Rare.”

“We always love working with new people,” Tablo said. “It worked out so that we could create something new together.”

Tablo says it’s important to continue to have representation for Asians in all industries, web3 being one of them.

“Everyone on the Azuki team is Asian American,” Tablo said, adding: “Together they're creating a new brand and a presence in a space people don’t know much about yet.”

As a group that has been around for over two decades, Epik High has managed to dodge obscurity through their open-mindedness and willingness to constantly innovate.

“I’m always wanting to be in touch with my fans,” Tablo said. “New technologies, new ways of communication, that’s my way of connecting with them.”

Fans were blown away by the execution, saying that they knew how to put their product in front of an audience in an “artistic and engaging way.”

“It was exceptionally done,” Tablo said. “Our characters blend very well with anime art.”

“Rosario,” which also features artists CL and ZICO, was named one of the “Best Songs of 2021” by Rolling Stone, The Ringer, and Teen Vogue.

“Coachella is not just a music festival. It’s also art, and we wanted to show that through visual art,” Tablo said.

While Coachella served as a platform this year for many artists, celebrities, and influencers to release their own NFTs, Tablo says Epik High chose to showcase the NFT space in a different way.

“One distinction is we’re not releasing an NFT,” he said. “We’re not trying to cash grab, we just want to share and appreciate the art.”

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