Mano Sundaresan is king of the go-go nights.
Sir E.U raps like he’s throwing his entire body into every word. The term “effortless” is often deployed as a marker of praise; it certainly does not apply here. On this end of the spectrum you have the beady brows and bent-out-of-shape voices, the bodies as beat-up instruments. You hear the pain and strain that give every line the weight of a hundred more. Scarface, DMX, Greedo, Gibbs — and now, E.U, who once rapped for 25 hours straight on his 25th birthday.
The D.C. rapper’s excellent new album Midnight Train To Velvet sounds like a sloshy, half-remembered crawl down U Street, and today we’re proud to present the Tyrous Morris-directed visuals for the standout cut “St. Even.”
The same vague descriptors are constantly thrown at E.U — weird, experimental, progressive, challenging. These tend to reduce anyone and anything to a curious fascination, an oddity whose oddness is the appeal, and in E.U’s case, mask the fact that he’s one of the most vivid writers working.
In these three minutes, coated in the hot cyber-muck of a Philip K. Dick book jacket, Sir E.U talks blackface, ancestral hatred and Ten Commandments; calls you Tom Holland as a diss (“you’re modest, you’re mid-ium”); assembles his army of family and “idiots;” and piles on layers to his decade-long legend in a stream of consciousness that’d make Ghostface proud. The images come out of nowhere, bright and bizarre. He’s Darth Maul in the mall in an interview. Pau Gasol with the inner feud. The journalist treasurer.
He sounds present, like he’s wringing himself into the mic in front of you. His bars sometimes taper off and sink into producer Jau Ocean’s drums till they’re a wailing texture. In an era of endless takes and punching in, E.U is the standard-bearer for rap as endurance test.