It’s been over a year since we first talked to Little Rock’s Epiphany.
In March of last year, he had just played for about 7,000 folks at Barnhill Arena, where he opened for multi-platinum recording artist T.I.
Since then, one of the hardest working artists in Arkansas (and one of the smartest individuals I’ve had a chance to interview) has released the first two installments in a planned four-part mixtape series, (the second of which was just released March 9) and has grown his local fan base to regularly pack venues in Fayetteville when he comes to town.
Also, his track “5 Dollas” has been stuck in my head ever since.
Piph will be in town this weekend for two shows: Friday at Aloft in Rogers, and Saturday for Lucio’s Grown Folks Night at Smoke and Barrel with Shawn Fresh, Lucio, DJ Shortfuze, and Gina Gee.
We tracked him down for an interview, and he was nice enough to answer some questions for us.
Fayetteville Flyer: What have you been listening to lately?
Epiphany: Actually, I’m on a radio/club, Conduit/local, alternative tip right now. Radio and club because I tend to have to play catch up on what’s “hot”. Conduit and local because honestly my squad and some other cats round the way are actually putting out some high quality product. And alternative/rock/whatever because I get drowned by hearing too much rap. Oh yeah, and gospel stays a staple too.
FF: Let’s talk about the Respect mixtape series. It’s a four part series, correct?
Piph: Yeah, there are four pieces to the puzzle. I’ve been wanting to do a series of some sort for a second or three now and the title “Respect” seemed to be the most fitting as that was what I was aiming to gain with a larger mass with the project. With each tape, I just decided to roll with a particular concept or thread.
FF: The second tape, Womens, came out a couple weeks ago. Tell us about some of the themes running through the tape.
Piph: Honestly, it has somewhat of a loose narrative to it. It starts with the “hard headed/never settle” Piph, progresses into how that and other mindsets cause problems, then jumps to how even I can get caught up and it’s good for me, and then just ends on the “we dudes have issues tip”. I decided to throw in some bonus tracks, pretty much because I liked them. You know, further feed the fam.
On a more personal level, each track was inspired by reality and much of the “I found love and it’s a good thing” tip were inspired by my girlfriend (as seen in “Baby” and “How High”). Honestly, she would complain that our relationship was hidden, but I was trying to show her in a public manner that she does impact my life and I’m not scared to share it. But uh, we broke up somewhere close to when I was finishing so it was a trip finishing/writing/recording some of the verses post breakup. That’s also how the second verse in “Pretty Memories” popped up in dedication to her. She got the old “don’t date someone w/ a microphone” treatment. Shoulda chose an athlete. They woulda just cheated.
FF: How does the process of putting together one of these things work. Do you pick a subject, and write songs around it? Do you write it all ahead of time?
Piph: Man, it’s a ‘lil of both. For the individual song, I’m big on letting the beat talk and tell me where to go with the music, but for the project “Womens” as a whole I actually began making songs and they slowly began fitting together. Then I just made the rest fall in place.
Now, on the next edition, “Life”, I more so know what type of feel I’m going for each track, so I’ll pick beats that spark those subjects out of me. Still though it’s gotta have a ‘lil range to it as you have to round out each project. Can’t make them too top heavy w/ any one type of sound.
FF: How much work have you done on the last two tapes? What can you tell us about them?
Piph: “Life” and “Natch”. The “Life” one should be pretty self-explanatory, whereas the Natch one is called that because all the tracks are made by that producer. To be honest w/ you, I’ve done a grip with them, but I’m thinking a major change up is about to come into play. I won’t speak on yet until it’s solidified though.
FF: What’s the best way for folks to get their hands on your mixtapes?
Piph: Ah, the question every artist wants the interviewer to ask. You can hit up my myspace page, or you can download them at djbooth.net (Part 1 – Respect) (Part 2 -Womens). Also, my website is coming soon. I believe the url will be www.iamthelife.net/epiphany.
FF: It’s been a while since we talked to you. What else is going on in your world?
Piph: A major part has been building up a much bigger digital presence. I’ve been pretty regular on many realted hip-hop blogs and have had my music and/or interviews on the two biggest hip-hop websites: Allhiphop.com and Hiphopdx.com. Plus getting the mixtape hosted by DJBooth.net is an accomplishment of itself. Slowly, but surely.
Besides that, I’m a go more so with travelling. Been able to get to the Dallas’s, Atl’s, and other places a lil bit more. Also, just working more so on other content to support and help accompany the music. Also, my behind the scene opportunities have picked up. I tend to keep my hand in a few performance and non-performance related shindigs.
Oh yeah, and I still buy food, pay taxes, and other things God and The Man force me to do. I’m a sellout.
FF: What’s your live show looking like these days?
Piph: Man I’m pretty decent. Still rocking with the band consisting of the female vocalist, Gina Gee, and the live instrumentation of J/keys, Frank/drums, Lucas/guitar, and OT or Bo/bass. Also, my show with just Gina Gee or with BMore Mike (“co-rapping”) with me are both solid. I feel I can honestly say that because we for real practice and work to put on a good show. Reception has been real cool-like.
FF: What’s new in the Little Rock scene lately. Anything we should check out?
Piph: I’ll pub the semi-regular hip-hop shows I’m part of throwing called The O.D. It’s 8 hip-hop acts each with a 12 minute spot, just enough for you to get more than a taste and not too much for someone to get tired of the unknown. People have enjoyed them thus far. Besides that, on the kickin’ it end on the urban scene, things have picked up round this way. Now they got from Wed-to-Sunday buck on the strip in random venues. Womens in their Sunday best with a sexy twist. I co-sign.
What’s next for Epiphany?
Piph: I think I’m a have some seeds soon as that’s seeming like the “In” thing to do, but on the music tip, I’m heavily looking to build the team to get closer to the vision. You know on the manager, publicist, and related tip. Also, looking for an agent or related to start getting these shows to flowing even more regular. Of course good music is always on tap, but it’s time to get up, out and on to the next level. I’m built for this.
Click below to hear “Doin Thangs” by Epiphany (featuring K. Sparks)