Stereotypes are a hard thing to shake in life. They exist in the minds of millions to classify and identify other genders, other ethnicities, or other groups. Stereotypes are often incorrect and too broadly applied, but they persist nonetheless. The world could use more people like Epiphany who not only destroy stereotypes, but embrace their role in helping destroy those barriers to create a more accepting and open global community.
Like many musical artists in the rap game, Epiphany came from humble beginnings in a town with a history of stereotypes. Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and raised in the Little Rock area, he had hurdles to clear at a young age. Little Rock has any number of stereotypes that can be difficult to overcome for even the strongest of characters. For many years the city and its residents were faced with stereotypes related to serious gang problems, and larger societal views of the city being redneck and backward.
Rather than allowing those stereotypes to classify him, Epiphany overcame those stereotypes and used them to create his own unique musical style to separate himself from others. Would you believe that Epiphany, an accomplished rap artist, is also a graduate of one of the most prestigious post-secondary institutions in the United States?
Well believe it! Epiphany is a graduate of Stanford University in California with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Despite being at one of the best higher-learning institutions in the world, he believed there was another calling for him. He has revealed that it was his time at Stanford that not only showed him the path to his true passion; it even provided him with his stage name Epiphany.
During an interview with Kreol Magazine he laid out the path that took him from his studies in Mechanical Engineering to a career behind the microphone. According to Epiphany himself: “It came because I was actually attending Stanford University and I was pursuing a mechanical engineering degree and the con is as I got more into rap it hit me, I’d rather wake up every morning doing what I love as opposed to what I “train” for. So it was kind of my epiphany and if anybody gets anything through my music hopefully they will have an epiphany as well.”
After discovering a desire to chase his true passions, Epiphany set about crafting his own musical style that would set him apart in the industry. Over the past decade Epiphany has been writing and putting out music that is different from what many are accustomed to hearing from a musician in his industry. Again overcoming the stereotypes of Arkansas and Little Rock in particular, Epiphany refrains from gun and gang related themes in his lyrics.
Instead, Epiphany looks to his past interactions to inspire his music. He credits the people he has interacted with in his life and the situations he has been involved in with helping him develop his own unique style. Because he avoided the typical troubles of Little Rock, he refuses to allow those themes and ideals to be infused into and ref lected in his music.
When asked for his opinion about his musical style by Kreol Magazine, Epiphany had the following to say: “Right so I’m from Pine Bluff, Arkansas which is like the middle of Delta; has some great stuff about it but was kind of a little bit of a struggling region. And then I’m in the Seychelles, went to Stanford University, I live in a basement in New York so I mean I’ve lived a big spectrum, I have seen the whole spectrum and if I haven’t experienced it myself I have close friends that have from the “best” to the “worst”. I just put that in my music! I really feel like I can relate to a lot of people but the ones that don’t relate that’s fine! That’s cool, there are other rappers out there for you, you know?”
Just like many of the best artists out there, Epiphany is not a one-trick pony and refuses to be typecast solely as a rapper. Without question, Epiphany does view himself as a rapper. He also views himself as being much more than just a rapper. While he does perform solo, as mentioned he refuses to develop gang or gang-related lyrics for his music.
In addition to his solo performances, Epiphany also branches out to perform duets with his female vocalist counterpart Gina Gee. He is also the lead member of a six piece band known as One Night Stand. The group performs a mix of music that Epiphany himself describes as being a blend of Hip Hop, Soul, Jazz, and Rock.
It is often quick and easy to slap a stereotype on someone and hold it to be true; this in fact is why many stereotypes are so hard to overcome. When it comes to the music industry rappers are often lumped into the same group and viewed in the same light. Epiphany has shown that there are talented artists out there that can redefine how the industry is viewed and bring their own soul and flair to the industry while overcoming stereotypes in the process.
Recently, Epiphany showed off his kinder side performing in free concerts over a 10 day period in the Indian Ocean nations of Mauritius and Seychelles. Epiphany and fellow Little Rock resident and rapper Ferocious traveled to Mauritius and Seychelles to perform at a number of events in relation to the Daniel Pearl World Music Days.
The Daniel Pearl World Music Days event in Mauritius was arranged by the U.S. Embassy, the Ministry of Arts and Culture, and the Institut Francais de Maurice (IFM). The concert series is dedicated to American journalist Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and killed in Pakistan 2002.
Big Piph performed a lunch time show on Friday 5 October in Port Louis, followed that up with a free concert at the Open Air Theatre in Pointe Canons, and wrapped up with a performance on Saturday 6 October in Rose Hill. In addition to the free concerts, Big Piph conducted live radio shows, met with local school kids, and held workshops with local artists. The duo closed out their trip with a concert that was free to the public on 12 October 2012 at the National Theatre in Victoria, Seychelles.
Epiphany affirmed his position as a role model in the rap game with his participation in the Daniel Pearl World Music Days. Pearl, like Big Piph, recognised the ability of music to bridge the gap between people and society. It was only natural for Big Piph to travel to Mauritius to take part in this tremendous event.