It is by no means an accident that one of Chicago’s newest hip-hop groups labels themselves “Epoch.” With the hip-hop world stagnant, exceptions only lead to a handful of good-music trend breakers. The struggle it took for the world to take hip-hop seriously as a musical art form is being undercut by the mainstream’s addiction of shallow, monotonous and regressive songs. A growing sentiment of disdain for the status quo leads not only to disgruntled bi-monthly columns by yours truly, but also channels the intellectual and innovative growth of artists across the world, more specifically, Chicago’s newly highlighted group – Epoch.
The duo, comprised of Lorenzo “LoP” Powell, 20, and Sulaiman “TNS” Shabazz, 21, are transcending the music scene on a grassroots level, while also attacking the industry of music and hip-hop culture itself by injecting their own flavor of style and novelty. These two University of Illinois alums are taking the industry back to school.
In 1997, Lorenzo “LoP” Powell and Sulaiman “TNS” Shabazz became friends while attending the same middle school. “He was the only other person I knew that played King’s Quest,” LoP said of the action role-playing video game popular at the time. “Ever since then, it just clicked.”
Their first show together was at the Congress Hotel in downtown Chicago in 2005, and a year later, Epoch was born. In a collective statement from their press kit, “Epoch’s music reflects the joys and pains of the 21+ generation, and successfully combines the influences of everyday life into a captivating, addicting collage of musical worth.”
By drawing on inspirations from a variety of musicians, which range from Incubus, Radiohead, Black Thought and J Dilla, they maintain a competitive edge with musical viscosity that evokes knowledge of good music not limited to hip-hop. Pioneering production is also a must with any budding group, which is provided by Mario Loving and Nesbitt Wesonga – the production group Fresh Academy, who routinely works with Epoch. When asked about hip-hop’s current state, the duo of Epoch had opposing views, which adds to the group’s diverse sound. TNS said that he is pleased with its current state, but LoP was not. “It needs more of a balance … the industry has definitely shifted,” said LoP.
Their opposing views, however, don’t stagnate their complete, groundbreaking sound. For example, their new single, “Work It Out” isn’t the most melodically original blended club banger in history, but the Neptunes-inspired beat artistically tells a story while causing a sensation to dance and flirt.
The music is just one aspect in Epoch’s grand scheme. Blind I Entertainment, Inc., which was established as a T-shirt company in 2003, grew into a full fledged entertainment company out of the business knowledge accrued from TNS’ bachelors degree in music marketing from Columbia College in Chicago. Blind I is an online publication that covers music, commentary, tech, media and, of course, freshness. Their URL is blindiforthekids.com and their singles are readily available for listening through their MySpace page, myspace.com/epoch.
The literal definition of Epoch is a particular period in time marked by distinctive features or events. The group is in its adolescence and is beginning to show that they can live up to the ambitious standards that they have set. It may be true that your name predetermines your fate because Epoch has nowhere to go but up. One Love.