It’s hard to call a guy who’s won the Ruckus Cup MC battle at the Big Easy two of the last three years “low profile,” but eyenine is our local hip-hop scene’s version of the artist who’s more popular outside his hometown than in it (see also: Arborea, Falls of Rauros, Kurt Baker, et al.). Dude trounced Spose in the first round this year.
But eyenine’s newest work and follow up to 2011’s full-length Afraid to Dream, the seven-song Dissembler released last week, gives some indication why he’s not all bouncing around WCYY (or, hell, ’JBQ) like others of the local rap crew. This is more underground fare. Though there is often a chorus to come back to, eyenine’s general plan for the verses is to bludgeon you with words. His delivery is quick, precise, and unrelenting, often making it hard to parse out what are dense and interesting word constructions.
Further, there’s an bitterness simmering in his rough and nasally voice that’s likely to get under your skin if you don’t watch out. While producer and road partner DJ El Shupacabra lays down bright soundbeds full of chiming guitar or bleating horns, eyenine often aims below the belt. Like “Wake Up Call,” his team-up with Spose and emo crooner Chris Moulton that sarcastically sends up contemporary hip hop’s extrapolations on dope smoking and girl chasing: “I want to know why you can’t seem to say anything.”
More often, though, eyenine turns his bitterness on himself. The smooth R&B backing of “Teeth” is pure self-examination: “I’ve been hiding from the things that devastate me.” The pretty little sax turn in the chorus “will mean nothing if my smile is just a chance to show my teeth.” And even as dilly dilly’s ethereal vocals ripple through the catchiest chorus here on “Stress Relief,” eyenine isn’t satisfied: “At this point I should have made my magnum opus.”
Eh. I’d say touring the country with the RZA ain’t bad by way of accomplishments. And that’s probably the best way to experience eyenine. On record, sure, he’s tight. On stage? He’s a whirling dynamo, like the energy he’s producing will shortly shoot him into the sky like a rocket.
I’ll certainly be following his trajectory and seeing where he lands.
Dissembler | Released by eyenine | facebook.com/pages/eyenine/159747831834