The Set List
By Brian Washburn
Musical Diversity Has Arrived in the Natural State
Arkansas Rap and Hip-Hop Artists Are Putting Out First Class Sounds
It seems that soon Arkansas will be known for more than rock and country music. The local hip-hop and rap scene seems to be bursting out into the regional and national spotlight. With acts like Sound Child Crew and Hardaway and the Commoners receiving acclaim, another name has jumped up to be added to the list of up-and-coming artists. T.I., T-Pain and Lil’ Wayne should watch their backs, okay maybe not Weezy. But still, with appearances around the state and the release of their new album “Low Tide,” Arkansas native Epiphany and One Night Stand are a force to be reckoned with.
Piph mixes the smooth hip-hop rhythm found with the likes of Gym Class Heroes, T.I. and Shwayze. But he also delivers the spot-on lyricism seen with Lil’ Wayne and Kanye West. The mix tape features a number of artists from Epiphany’s record label and many artists on the verge of breaking onto the national hip-hop stage. The vast differences with these guest artists and Piph’s at times flawless delivery give “Low Tide” diversity.
The album’s stand out single “Hollywood Cole” sounds as if it is destined to be a radio hit. The beats – mastered by Piph’s One Night Stand member 607 – are nothing unique and can be found in almost any hip-hop song out today. Yet, they still give the album a distinct flow that would make listeners believe Piph had already made it big. It might just be a matter of time until he does.
The lyrics go with the beats almost perfectly. Piph raps about making it in the big time and other aspects of life found in hip-hop and rap lyricism. A few cheesy and cliché remarks to clowns, queens and bros bring down Epiphany’s attempt to be unique with words and smart. However, listeners can’t deny the catchiness for almost every song off the release. A few of them could even give “Heartless” a run for its money in the “song that will be stuck in your head for the rest of the month” category.
The biggest downfall to “Low Tide” is the redundancies it faces with itself and every other album in the genre. While Epiphany does do it well, any one of the songs on the album could be placed in an Akon, T-Pain (without the overload of auto-tune) or Common release. Those comparisons might not be a bad thing, however, as every one of those artists is nationally recognized for their talents.
Rap and hip-hop has exploded nationally. With Grammy voters actually giving credit where credit is due this year by nominating Lil’ Wayne for Album of the Year, the genre can only go farther up from here. While the harsh and sometimes violent lyricism and lifestyle images can turn people off to the music, it is still an art and local artists like Epiphany are bringing up a talent in a place where usually only country music and southern rock dominates. “Low Tide,” along with new releases from Sound Child Crew and Hardaway and the Commoners, will give Arkansas the music diversity it has been craving from the start of the decade.