Eunide Edouarin—the Haiti-based rapper more popularly known as Eud—doesn’t like to do interviews. “When I’m being interviewed,” the raptress contends, “I have so many things going on my head at the same time that I sometimes answer questions they never asked me, and I’m kinda shy.” Yet shyness is a quality that very few would identity with Edouarin. Take a performance for example in which the self-described homebody held her own alongside CaRiMi, one of the most popular Haitian pop bands on the market, during one of her first big performances in New York. Slithering sexily onstage, the singer-rapper rapped effortlessly on the band’s hit “Fanm Nan Move”, before dissolving into a verse of her own song “Hey”. It’s utter confidence and bravado that shines through; no signs of timidity.
Edouarin is a self-proclaimed traditional girl, but her start in the Haitian rap music game was far from conventional. While hanging at a local radio station in Port-au-Prince, she was invited by a rapper named Easy One to freestyle on a beat, and after being at a loss as to what to put in her improvised lyrics—Edouarin who grew up in a Baptist Church—started to recite the words of the first chapter of the Book of Psalms, pulling in listeners and the radio station’s DJs into a mild frenzy. Ingenuity was her name.
At the request of Easy One, one of Haiti’s most popular rappers at the time (since deceased), Edouarin, who having received a rebirth hip-hop baptism, was renamed Eud (pronounced Ood, you know like ‘hood’ without the ‘h’), joined Le Tribu de Job, a rap group where she was the sole female member.
Le Tribu de Job eventually dissolved, and Eud became part of Mystic 703, which now consists of her, the rapper Ded Kra-Z and 11 other members. From there, in addition to performing as part of the group, Eud cleverly started to position herself as a solo artist. Her duet with male rapper Izolan is one of Haitian hip hop’s first love duets, and one of the best. “Ou konnen ke’m renmen’w/Ou konnen ke’m damou’w,” she growls in one verse, “Mwen pa konnen pou kisa w’ap fè mwen fè jalouzi”(You know that I love you/You know that I am in love with you/Can’t figure out why you’re tryin’ to get me jealous). Says Carel Pedre, a radio personality based in Haiti and host of the Haitian radio morning show “Chokarella” of the raptress-songstress: “I think she is one of best female artists that we have in the Haitian music industry. She’s versatile, she’s smart and she has style.”
Indeed, with a combination of style, talent and sheer marketing savvy, Edouarin managed to create a buzz both in and outside of Haiti before even releasing an album. The wheels of her marketing machine got a great deal of oil both through online and off-line channels, coupled with a carefully crafted persona and mystique—made more viable by a music video for “Hey”, in which Edouarin is depicted as a nonsense diva with rapping and singing skills, who is not about to be duped into any man’s web of lies and deceit, thank you very much.
It’s that confidence that makes admirers like Adley “DJADD 1″ Raymond of New York City’s “Sakpase Radio” show praise her endlessly. “Princess Eud is the epitome of rap creole,” observes ADD 1. “She is beautiful, talented and she has a notable swag. She has a distinctive rap style that can capture anybody’s attention from miles away.”
Last summer, the rapper and her artistic partner Ded Kra-Z released an album Limyè Rouj. Two songs “Yap Pale” and “A Dans Mizik la” were released as singles, and supported by flashy music videos. But understandably, whatever bursting fuse that’s lit within her is going to be bursting through when she makes her solo debut. “I find inspiration from everything that’s going on in everyday life, in my own life, and those in my entourage and such,” indicates Eud. “My melodies come to me pretty easily once I hear a beat in my head.”
Eud and her Mystic 703 cohort Ded-Kra-Z peformed in Japan recently at a hip hop festival. But the international trip that made the biggest impression on own and that she credits with reviving her confidence in herself as a performer, was during a musical festival dedicated to hip hop. “I’ve never had a welcome like that,” she says of her trip to Havana. “Even though the crowd didn’t know what I was saying, but with the power that I was delivering the lyrics I was knocking on the stage, it made everyone jump up and down and repeat everything I was saying. They welcomed me like a true princess, and frankly I was really ecstatic about it. Up to this point, [Cuba] is the country that’s really made an impression on me since I’ve been going overseas.”
While Edouarin claims not to feel any special sisterhood with fellow female rappers, most of the other artists that she admires and draws inspiration from are female. “I love Lauryn Hill; I love her personality, her singing style,” and with her cocoa-brown complexion, and natural twists, Edouarin could easily be mistaken for a distant young relative of Hill’s circa the release of Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Edouarin continues through her laundry list of inspirations. “I love Manzè of Boukman Eksperyans. This woman there’s no way you can be around her and not feel strong. I like the way she carries herself and her self-respecting ways. I like Beyonce for her energy and Rihanna because she’s not afraid of saying what she thinks. I love Pink because she’s so real. I love Amy Winehouse for her voice and Ayo and Adele for the all the emotion they put in their songs and their simplicity, but there are others I could mention as well.”
In an industry where feuds are the norm, Edouarin is drama-free for the most part. She is not particularly chummy with any other female artists (members of her family, including her sister Dina in particular, she avows, are her best friends). “But I don’t have a problem with anyone,” she is quick to affirm. “I love everyone who’s doing positive things, and I would love for everyone to get to the top, and to make all their dreams come true.”
If the Haitian pop music industry as a whole is dominated by males, moreso is the world of Haitian hip hop, which leads one to ask, is it hard being a female rapper, to which Eud answers rather diplomatically: “Well, I don’t know if it’s difficult for the other female rappers in Haiti, but I know it’s been a long road for me to get to where I am, and I worked hard for it, and when you work, it’s the fruit of your labor that you reap.” She adds: “Life is not the same for everyone; what you picture isn’t what you usually get. Up to this point, things aren’t exactly the way I would want them them to be, but they’re not too bad, but of course I can’t answer for the other female rappers.”
And speaking of other Haitian female rappers, Haiti isn’t exactly covered with them the way it’s covered with mountains. Eud is definitely one of the most visible, if not the most visible next to Niskkaa and J-Ruff. Perhaps Eud’s edge stems from the fact that she raps mostly in Creole, while Niskkaa raps mostly in English, with more risqué lyrics, and appeals mostly to the young elite crowd. J-Ruff, for her part, is pretty new to the Haitian rap scene, or at least to the Haitian-American audience. Eud’s popularity is also due to her timing on the Haitian hip hop scene—she made an early entrance into the rap game in Haiti, (when very few females dared to enter, or if they did they didn’t persevere to the point where they could get the visibility she’s enjoying). And then there’s again the social media marketing factor, which Eud has used consistently as part of her promotion strategies. And it does help that Eud is easy on the eyes with her svelte physique, glamorous style and image—and overall good looks. Her lyrical recipe of self-assertive, socially conscious and upbeat songs also have played a part in her success.
Pedre has no doubts about the fact that the rapper’s popularity is based on talent. “She’s like the queen of Haitian hip-hop,” he affirms. “She’s a great composer and lyricist too. She’s different because she never missed the opportunity to showcase her talent. People think that the Haitian music industry is not a good business for females and Eud prove them wrong.” DJADD 1 echoes the same stating, “She displays a positive attribute through her work ethic.” In her, he sees historical significance for this generation of young women. “She represents all women who are afraid to showcase their talents in Haiti and everywhere else.”
But beyond all the industry gushing, is Princess Eud just a part of a well-orchrestated hype machine or is she the real deal? Is she someone who just got lucky, and was at the right place at the right time? Is she just a clever little number, who thanks to the adage that anyone in Haiti can be a star provided they get enough screen time, and know a few influential people. But lots of people can get TV screen time, and hobnob with the Big Dawgs. So, how is it that they don’t move the fans and catch the eye like Princess Eud does?
When not performing, Eud—that’s Princess Eud to you—usually likes to stay within the confinements of her home. The married raptress and the mother to one says the birth of her son changed her life. “He’s taught me so much. He taught me what true love really is, what affection is, what joy is. He’s the best thing that’s happened to me so far.”
Her album is another child that she cherishes to her heart. She’s got big plans, thank you very much, and in the long run, her plans don’t necessarily evolve around the world of rap. She’s got talents and dreams all over the place. A skilled cook, one of her dreams is to become a uber chef, the type that invents dishes. Quite the stylist, she plans on having her own styling firm, with the biggest international stars as part of her client stable. She also envisions being a mentor to up-and-coming artists a decade or so from now, and most of all she sees herself as a leading and influential advocate of women’s rights.
Ironically enough, Ms. Edouarin/Eud/Princess Eud doesn’t view herself as a feminist. “No, I am not a feminist,” she admits outright, “because frankly I wouldn’t want to have the same rights as a man in the sense of me thinking that I can do all that a man can do. I am a woman and I know what I can do and what I cannot do. I just want for everyone to respect women and to recognize their usefulness in society, and not to scorn them or abuse them.”
Asked if she has any regrets so far, and she will tell you that, well, no. “So far I don’t have any at all and I don’t think I’ll ever have any regrets, because everything that happens in my life—whether good or bad—happens so I can draw a lesson. I just thank God and keep right on living.”