Thu 20 Dec – Eyedea & Abilities
Saint Paul’s own Eyedea & Abilities define where hip-hop is from, where it is, and where it’s going. I first heard his name after he won Scribble Jam in 1999. I first saw Eyedea open for Atmosphere at Slims, in San Francisco. But it was only recently that I fell in love with him as an MC when I watched Eyedea and Slug free style on You Tube. (Part 1 and Part 2 Both Clips Are a Must) Years of listening to First Born, The Many Faces of Oliver Hart, and E & A never did his skills justice.
A natural performer - notice I didn’t say a natural rapper, but rather a natural performer – Eyedea’s flow, presence and love for his music are visible once he steps on the stage. There are better rappers, story teller, and song structure but put a mic in front of his face and it’s impossible to miss his charisma.
Eyedea’s charisma was on full display for Eyedea & Abilities sold out West Bank’s Triple Rock Social Club last Thursday night, which is impressive considering most local artists have trouble selling out on a weekend. Just like Doomtree a week earlier, E &A bring together several of the five elements of hip-hop: Abilities DJing, Eyedea rapping, and the addition guest MC “Carnage” beat-boxing. The addition of beat-boxing was once conventional, but today it’s rare to hear All that was missing from the picture was a graffiti artist mural and a break dancing circle to complete all “five elements of hip-hop.”
There are times when Eyedea retreats to a more comfortable position, with his back to the audience, leaving Abilities turntablism at center stage. On the opposite end of the spectrum, with an almost split personality, he feeds off the Minnesota love - presenting himself raw and vulnerable to the audience.
Abilities turntable skills deserve equal attention. It’s easy for Abilities to get lost behind Eyedea. But Abilities is a two time DMC Regional championships, and his production allows Eyedea to shine. Abilities turntable interludes of harkens back to Terminator X, Mix Master Mike and much later A-Trak. It’s refreshing that unlike Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys and Kanye West, Abilities gets equal billing with his MC.
Each songs lack of transition reflects Eyedea’s experience as a battle MC. What he lacks in transitions, he more than makes up for lyrically. Whether the lyrics are autobiographical or strictly fiction is not important. Cadence and flow are on point, reminiscent of the youtube clip. E & A’s performance of “A Murder of Memories” and “Now” standout in a crowd of new and old songs.
If E & A’s performance says anything about what is to come from the duo, I’ll be sure keep my ear to the ground for the rest of my days in Minnesota.