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12 June, 2004@12:00 am

     Eyedea has crushed rivals in battles (from Scribble Jam to the televised HBO Blaze Battle), giving him a strong reputation amongst underground heads and hip hop fans alike. The difference between him and the other white battle emcee is he has gone the independent route completely. After releasing First Born to critical acclaim many were thrown a curve ball because he dismissed his penchant for battling, opting instead to mind fuck his audience with introspective and meaningful lyrics (“Birth Of A Fish”). Problem is that it isn’t what people expected from him and it went way over the head of the average listener. At the same time, it garnered him a fan base who would stick by him no matter what. Now it has become a love/hate relationship and 4 years after his first release comes his second union with DJ Abilities, The E&A.

    Since it is considered a love/hate relationship lets first present the reason many love Eyedea & Abilities. First off, the duo have the type of emcee/producer chemistry that is almost absent with most lyricists albums having beats from a plethora of big named producers. From the jump, “Now” represents this aspect to the utmost, as Abilities adrenaline fused production allows Eyedea to construct his multi-syllable approach within the crashing symbols and maniacal scratches. It is easy to point out that Abilities assembles beats meant for Eyedea to manipulate. “Act Right” demonstrates the penchant that Eyedea showcased in the Blaze Battle, ripping mics. Abilities employs a head nodding track that Eyedea tears down with humorous lines like “You’re that one girl I went to high school with/Back then you treated me like I wasn’t shit/You say if I give you a free CD, you’ll show me your tits?/You get the CD for ten bucks like everyone else, you stupid {BITCH!}/{No} – I don’t care if you just broke up witcha boyfriend/{No} – I ain’t tryin to go where every other rapper’s been!/{No} – If I was to kick it all my boys would clown/ so I could{“Never hold ya, can’t hold ya, won’t hold ya down” – J-RO}”. Eyedea is also at his best when he steps up with thought provoking, introspective songs. “Glass” is a perfect example of how deep Eyedea can be. Throughout the stirring production Eyedea speaks about how fragile every aspect of our world is. Very moving indeed, although it may go over the heads of many who are still only looking for the cat who won the Blaze Battle.

      This is what takes us directly into the reasons why many hate Eyedea and Abilities. Emo rap, Smart rap, Backpack rap, White Boy rap, call it what you want, but by any name it is the reason many can’t deal with Eyedea. Joints like “Paradise ” and “Man vs. Ape” may be a little bit too much for the average listener. While he is an exceptional storyteller, his voice is the other aspect that may turn the average listener off. Vocal chops can dictate the difference between moving insignificant units to moving massive units. He sounds like…. well, a white boy (granted, he is one). But for those who can’t gravitate towards that, it becomes a letdown to hear him spit rapid fire flows with an annoying voice. These things aside, Eyedea is still an exceptional emcee but for those reasons will have a hard time reaching the next plateau.

     The E&A is a solid album nonetheless, whether you love Eyedea or you hate him. The chemistry between DJ and emcee is prevalent throughout and is the true high point of the album. This album is all Eyedea and Abilities. No compromising, no switching up their styles to please the masses, none of that. And for that reason they put up another quality album for the Rhymesayers faithful.

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