:: Eyedea and Abilities :: Marquis Theatre :: December 3 ::
By Eric Lab Rat
In 2004, the rapper Eyedea made a big splash among the intelligent rap community and national press with E & A, a collaboration between himself and DJ Abilities. It was a good year to be a producer who experimented with form, and a rapper who eschewed nonsense rhymes in lieu of more important subject matter.
That year, heady heads like Sage Francis, Atmosphere, Busdriver, Blockhead, RJD2 and Brother Ali were all getting their names in print, and it looked like everyone on Anticon, Rhymesayers, and Definitive Jux labels were going to hit big. With all those albums coming out, vying for the same fans and the same press, E & A was one of the ones that stood out. In part, it was because it wasn’t just about the lyrics or the beats, but by being a real collaboration between musicians. There are cuts on E&A that sound like jazz, and indie rock, and cuts that don’t make any sense at all, that seem more turbulent. At the same time, Eyedea, who made a name for himself with wins at HBO’s “Blaze Battle” in 2000 and the “Scribble Jam” in 1999, may be one of the fastest rappers out there who doesn’t rap that fast all the time, which you really need for an album that’s basically 13 tracks about pain.
Since 2004, Eyedea has been a bit more quiet, but he’s been lending his voice to other projects, mainly Face Candy, a free jazz ensemble, and Carbon Carousel, a thrashy rock outfit that released an album last year. It’s hard to say how far Eyedea and his peers have gotten since 2004. They’re all getting play outside of backpacker circles, but the mainstream cares less about songs than it does about party starters, and less about compositions than ringtones, and Eyedea says he pretty much doesn’t give a shit.
“It’s important to be able to feel part of the world, to see how things evolve and degenerate, but I’m not really looking at the rest of hip-hop. I think I’m a different person. I’m not intrigued by the battle rap thing. With E & A, I would think ‘We shouldn’t be too out there because there are other hip-hop guys listening,” he said in a recent interview with The Marquee.
With two bands at his disposal, Eyedea says he’s not just a different person but a different writer. A lot of vitriol gets funneled into Carbon Carousel, and a lot of experimentation goes into, and comes out of Face Candy, which is all live improvisation. It’s hard to say what the new Eyedea, paired up once again with Abilities, will sound like, and if their collaboration is moving towards another album.
“I don’t wanna say, ‘We’re making an album,’ because as soon as you do that, people start asking, ‘Yo, when’s the album coming out? When’s the album coming out?’ I’m just gonna say that we’re working on tracks right now,” Eyedea said.
And while he’s confident that fans of E&A will like the new sounds, he says he’s received some criticism from old fans over stuff he’s done in the meantime.
“The last time I was in Chicago was with Face Candy, and we had people yelling at us. I think we didn’t explain ourselves right and people just expected the same stuff, and then here I come out and I’ve got long hair and I’m not running around yelling, ‘Throw your hands up!’ and this guy starts yelling, ‘You’re not even trying!’ Eyedea explained. “So we just create this song directed at him, like ‘We’re trying to create and we’re trying to expand so why don’t you shut the fuck up,’ and I reach into my pocket and pull out my money and give him his ten dollars back and tell him to get out.”
:: Eyedea and Abilities ::
:: Marquis Theatre :: December 3 ::
Spectate if you Gravitate:
• Sage Francis