Eyedea & Abilities
virtuosity inherent in the hip-hop genre.
Their 2001 album First Born gave an idea of what Eminem might have sounded like had he holed up in our town and studied philosophy at the U-M for a few years. With multiple references to Plato and a great debate between a man and his fish over exactly who is caught in a glass box, it was involved, ambitious, and at times very funny. The duo took three years, an eternity in the fast-changing hip-hop scene, to release their second album, E&A. This work at one point contains the phrase "full-scale ontological warfare," but in general it is less intellectual than their first release, if no less ambitious.
One of the most common topics of hip-hop pieces is hip-hop music itself; that should have been an early tip-off that a sophisticated art form was emerging amid all the party music. The music on E&A involves various topics, but several times it returns to the common theme of a verbal attack on one's rivals. These are full of unusual twists and variations; Eyedea, like Eminem, rose to prominence by winning MC battles. One piece, "Man vs. Ape," inverts the boasting rapper into a right-wing figure ("I hold picket signs outside abortion clinic doors / I take what I want / And my God can kill yours"), counterpointed in a bass voice by a winding warning voice accompanied with a repeated bass guitar figure.