Growing from an eclectic generation of DMV artists, El Cousteau is cut from a different cloth, and he’s walking fashion week in it. The multi-faceted emcee is carving out a new lane of moshpit-tailored music that he performs at breakneck tempos, effortlessly weaving from one quotable punchline to another. Unconscious flows, high-octane production, curated style, and unreplicable stage presence define his addictingly bold sound. Cousteau is nothing short of the modern archetype of a four-dimensional artist, and all of the above is on full display on his standout track, Nitro.
My first encounter with Cousteau was during MIKE’s Ipari Park Tour, where Sideshow halted his own set to give him a chance to perform a track. Cousteau grabbed the mic and passionately paced the stage with his fists clenched as Nitro rose in volume from the stage’s monitors. I have seen a lot of live shows, but the electric 2-minute guest performance he gave blindsided me with a display of energy like nothing I have ever witnessed. Cousteau’s infectious stage presence and charisma immediately won over the entire crowd as he performed the animated track – in what almost seemed like – one breath. Furthermore, Cousteau’s unique brand of music resonates beyond stages, receiving a similar reception every time I play it around someone unfamiliar with his work. His inherent appeal defies mediums, having modeled for designer brands like Telfar and Ralph Lauren. It’s this versatility of his that begs the question. Why has he not blown up yet?
As the lead single of his latest studio project, Dirty Harry, Nitro is a statement. Cousteau voices boastful lyrics atop a heavy metal 4-bar guitar loop with his signature pedal-to-the-ground intensity to his delivery. However, those who boil down Cousteau’s sound to just being loud and fast are missing the point. His lyrics are overflowing with personality, and each bar is pronounced with very real raw emotion. As a result, his music provides a satisfying fist-clenched cathartic release for both Cousteau and those on the other side of the mp3. Framed within his hypnotizing flows are earworm lines like, “Ralph Lauren button down, my momma think I’m cross-dressing,” Nitro is a hit, and audiences are just now beginning to take notice. I can’t stress this enough, Cousteau is a star, and with co-signs from artists like A$AP Rocky to Sideshow, he’s destined to make noise and gain the traction his music deserves. Tap in with his track “Nitro” below!