A 2009 video of the group Mystik 703 features young male rappers along with some shots of women – well, at least their legs, hips and breasts.
Then the crowd parts, and a beautiful young woman – fully clothed – struts to the front, pushes a rapper out of the way, and begins to sing.
Eunide Edouarin, aka Princess Eud, is relatively small but she commands attention, her voice strong but easy, a sly smile spreading across her face.
“I just got out of my head any notion that girls don’t rap or whatever, and I did what I needed to do,” says Princess Eud.
She grew up in a poor neighborhood on a hillside overlooking Port-au-Prince. She was one of seven children. She sang in church, and then joined a neighborhood rap group, followed by several bands including the group Mystik 703. Then she went solo, pairing up mostly with fellow 703 member, Ded Krezi.
Her growing fame at home led to invitations to play overseas, in Cuba and Japan. No matter that she raps in Creole.
“After the show in Cuba, I’d be walking down the street,” she says. “I had been doing a song called ‘y ap pale’ [they’re talking], and everyone on the street would say ‘y ap pale!’ when they saw me. Japan too. They had no idea what I was saying, but they really liked us. So overseas we have had a lot of success.”
Eud is now working on her first solo album, combining rap with a variety of other styles, to show off her range.
To Carel Padre, a radio and TV personality who hosts music competitions, Eud has enormous potential. But he isn’t crazy about her recent shift from socially conscious lyrics to more typical topics, such as love and celebrity rivalry.
“She’s really talented, beautiful, she has a swag, she just needs good music,” he says. “I can say that Eud is the only great female rapper that we have. She’s the queen of Haitian rap. When you’re thinking about female mc in Haiti, hers is the only name that comes up.”
Actually she’s not the only one.
There is another popular Haitian female rapper, maybe less polished but just as powerful.
Jean Cylien Marie Innocent, aka Captain J. Ruff made a splash in 2006, when Wyclef Jean held a hip-hop competition in her Port-au-Prince neighborhood Belair. The theme: cleaning up the streets.
Of the 12 finalists, she was the only woman.At the time of the competition, Belair was just recovering from a period of politicized gang violence. And J. Ruff began to work with a Brazilian group, Viva Rio, working with children as young as seven-years-old who had been drawn into the violence, in her neighborhood and others.
Her rapping focused on Belair, the violence but also the positive energy and the artists that have emerged from the neighborhood.
Like Eud, J Ruff is working on her first solo album. She recorded some in Rio and some in New York, and she’s living in a quieter neighborhood above town, but she hasn’t forgotten where she came from.
The name of the album: “Belair stand up.”
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