Rapper Big Piph is taking a more intimate approach to his concert Friday at White Water Tavern in Little Rock. Instead of his usual backing band Tomorrow Maybe, the set will feature him and bassist Corey Harris.
"It will be me without the band and doing some new music," he said last week from his home near Atlanta. "I've been doing sets with the band for a while. They've changed up a little bit, but they have roughly been the same. [I'm] feeling good about this new music, but haven't put in the work yet to do it with the band, so this is just going back to basics with Corey on bass. It'll have a soulful, partyesque vibe."
The gig will also integrate elements of "The Glow With Big Piph," his one-man show for Arkansas PBS from 2020.
Piph's latest single, "Takeoff," is a rock 'n' soul banger with vocalists Dee Dee Jones and Bijoux. The song is part of a forthcoming web series called "Far from Finished," which is also the title of his 2021 EP.
"Even when I created that EP, I knew it was going to be something else," he says. As production began on the web series he realized that he needed songs to correspond with the episodes.
"At first it was just going to be the web series, but as the music was coming I figured I'd just call that the soundtrack."
The series should debut in January on YouTube and at bigpiph.com, he says.
Piph, who was born Chane Morrow, grew up in Pine Bluff and has an engineering degree from Stanford University. He says the "Far from Finished" story "is a fictitious version of me, of a person who is comfortable and successful in life but who still wants to go for the dream. It came from talking to a lot of friends, people who are all in good positions but at the same time are wondering are they going to do anything else or is this it?"
The series was shot in Little Rock, Northwest Arkansas and Atlanta and was about 80% completed before he traveled to Ghana in May as a hip-hop ambassador and site manager for Next Level, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Meridian International Center.
"It's going slowly but surely," Piph says. "We're in post-production editing and creating the soundtrack. I've checked out rough edits of the shows and they are not trash, and I'm getting real good feedback about the new song."
The cast includes friends and family but, like so many do-it-yourself projects, expanded beyond its original scope.
"Wisdom says that if you have a tight budget and a short series, you keep it to just a few people," Piph says with a chuckle. "But, man, there's like 30 people in 25 places .... It's one of those things that looks doable and within my means and then it grows and we just figure it out. I'm excited about it."
- Opening acts: Snipes, Menestree
- 9 p.m. Friday, White Water Tavern, 2500 W. Seventh St., Little Rock
- Admission: $10
- Information: whitewatertavern.com | (501) 375-8400