Neither E•Noon nor Franswais are the man appearing on the cover of Mr. Mysterious. In a sense the Nashville rappers are not Mr. Mysterious. The record is that enigmatic. The wishes of the duo is that Mr. Mysterious remains within the bookends of “Step Up On That” and “Slopes”, no lifestyle or brand or backstory required. Taken at face value Mr. Mysterious is a richly produced underdog record indebted to the musician’s hustle of Nashville and deeply influenced by the Dungeon Family heyday.
From the outset of “GRND” the duo convey a lineage to Aquemini-era production, as the live instrumentation is labored over to give it that swampy funk much like Outkast’s producers were out to capture the spirit of Hitsville, U.S.A. The organic approach to the record lends the freedom of movement and “GRND” embraces it for a celebratory outro over a second line strut through middle of Music Row.
In an email with E•Noon (moniker is No One backwards), he said Franswais was one of the first people he met after moving to Nashville from Pittsburgh. That relocation came with an introduction to Southern-fried rap like Big K.R.I.T., Project Pat, and 3-6 Mafia. E•Noon said he immediately clung to the “G-Funk beats riddled with Roland drum kits, funky bass lines, wah guitars, and dope harmonized hooks with that southern twang.” This is the Mr. Mysterious comfort zone, so much wah-wah it results in a near heartbroken center. Traditionally a track titled “Pool Party” should be kin to the breezy swagger of “Player’s Ball”, but E•Noon and Franswais are adrift like the breeze is blowing the inflatable pool chair away from a love interest.
“NoahMan” is the monument at the center. Addressed to that love again, “NoahMan” requests sympathy for the hustle. “If you get it you’re in it for the long road” the chorus goes. Under the sway of orchestral soul, E•Noon and Franswais express full awareness of the consequences of their hustle, but bid forgiveness for a path that cannot be denied. Who are we as artists to ask our lovers to understand this? “NoahMan” does not offer answers, but resonates in the conflicted heart nonetheless.
Stream Mr Mysterious in full.