Spotlight On: Black Epoch

04.29.2014 | Fine Arts

By Liz Rosevear '14

When sophomores James McLean and Jesse Hughes met at Summit Country Day School in Cincinnati, they never thought they would have the following that they do now. As hip hop wordsmiths for their group Black Epoch, these two young men are making a difference through their music every day.

McLean, whose moniker (stage name) is Monk, and Hughes have been working together since high school. It all began one day when Hughes, who had rapped with his brother and cousins before, invited Monk over to make some beats at his house while he rapped over them. Soon after they began performing at school talent shows and were receiving a lot of collaboration offers from other students. While the song writing came pretty easy for Monk and Hughes, naming their group took a little more time.

Trying out names like The Clumsy Librarians and Incite, which they eventually found out was copyrighted, the idea of Black Epoch came about. “Black Epoch” means a new period of time that is dark, which is how Monk and Hughes view our society in the present time.

“We aim to focus on injustices that are occurring in society and present them in a creative way to educate our listeners,” said Hughes.

Drawing inspiration from their own experiences and what is going on in the world, their music is used as a catalyst for change. With lines like “try to change the perceptions they’ve been taught to believe” (“P.O.M.”) and “this is verbal mutilation that's sparked from the indignation that comes from the constant hating that's causing brutal predation” (“Glitch”), it is apparent that Monk and Hughes are working to make a social change.

Their next mixtape project, which will feature ten new songs, incorporates a very interesting concept.

“Each song is a different seed. There is a seed of doubt, a seed of hope, a seed of romance; they are meant to stick in people’s heads,” said Monk.

Monk and Hughes enjoy working with Housing and Residence Life and Street Sounds, and Monk does on his own stand-up comedy. As far as Black Epoch goes, they are hoping to perform in the fall at Rocktoberfest and have their own show in the CPC.

In the near future, they will be performing in Columbus on May 30 along with releasing their newest mixtape “Planting Seeds.” Both guys are huge fans of Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar, and it looks like they are following in the footsteps of these greats.

To keep updated on their latest news, view pictures and listen to their music, check out blackepoch.com. They are also on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Bandcamp.

Liz Rosevear is a senior public relations and marketing student at the UD who has always had a passion for the arts and learning about other people’s talents and interests. She’s an event planning/programming sssistant at ArtStreet and the promotions manager for Flyer Radio. Through these positions she’s had the chance to get to know many creative students and give back to the arts community that has inspired her the last four years. When she’s not working at ArtStreet, she’s dancing with the UD Irish Dance Club. Writing student profiles gives her the chance to put the spotlight on students who are passionate, but who are also paving their own way in the arts world.

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