Eyedea and Abilities is what you get when you combine the very best of two opposite ends of Hip-Hop's musical spectrum. On one end you have the M.C./Lyricist, Eyedea, who has proven himself time and time again not only as an extraordinary song writer, but also as a master at battling and the art of freestyling. On the other end you have Abilities, the D.J./Turntablist, who's talent from the battle, to the mix tape, to production has resonated on the underground for quite some time now. When you put these two extremes together, you get the new, innovative and exciting dynamic we like to call E&A.
Between the years of 1997 and 2001, E&A completely conquered the competitive circuit. (Winning national and regional battles such as: Scribble Jam '99, RockSteady 2000, Blaze-Battle Chicago 2000, HBO Televised Blaze-Battle World Championship New York 2000, ‘99 DMC Regional, 2001 DMC Regional, and many more!) During this time E&A was also laying groundwork and establishing a fan base for themselves with Rhymesayers labelmates Atmosphere by doing self promoted U.S.. tours, traveling state to state selling their product hand to hand. Since then they have established themselves as a phenomenal live act, having performed with everyone from De La Soul to The Roots, to American Head Charge. (As well as doing full blown tours with artists such as: Prince Paul, Aceyalone, Cannibal Ox, Living Legends and more.)
Lauded as one of URB Magazines Next 100, Eyedea and Abilities dropped their first full length album entitled First Born in the Fall of 2001. This conceptual masterpiece caught many fans off guard, as they expected a more battle oriented approach to the songs. But as unexpected as it was, First Born proved that a powerful battle M.C. and Turntabilist could create a clever and cohesive concept album.
"...you can't argue with the musically inventive use of samples here or the range of subject matter covered. The record carries real emotional weight because of the subjects dealt with and that's still all too rare in Hip Hop." (5 out of 5 - Will Ashon/Muzik Issue #77 10/01)
"...First Born is a decidedly indie-style Hip Hop album full of intricate wordplay, austere beat science and heady lyrical content. Those expecting slice and dice battle techniques from Eyedea or Abilities will probably be disappointed, as First born is dominated by Eyedea's introspective, angst-y lyrics and Abilities' equally moody sound structures, all late-night jazz flourishes and towering drum loops...this is Hip Hop as therapy session-freudian funk for distressed heads." (3.5 out of 5 - Michael Endelman/URB Issue #88 10/01)
A little less than a year later, Eyedea released a self produced, completely self contained full-length c.d. titled The Many faces of Oliver Hart or: How Eye One the Write Too Think. This helped showcase Eyedea's skills as a producer, as well as give people one more reason to consider him one of the best song writers out there.
"...Any review would be remiss, however, if it did not mention the breath taking "Bottle Dreams," seriously one of the most profound songs in hip-hop history. With a laid back, compassionate delivery, Eyedea tells a tale of a young violin prodigy, sexually abused by her widower father. She keeps her horrible secret bottled inside, but finds expression through writing in her diary. Finally, one day she decides to end her life, and what the police find with her body at the bottom of the lake will give you goose bumps if you are human...Eyedea's ability to make a chilling song like this truly separates him from other emcees." (Review from Hip-Hop Infinity.com)
n the past year or so,in addition to doing numerous side-projects (including Abilities performing all the scratches for El-p's critically acclaimed Fantastic Damage, pairing up with I Self Divine of The Micranots to create the group Semi. Offical and Eyedea's Oliver Hart projects.), E&A have developed an aesthetic that will completely set them apart from the rest. The way they play off of each other as M.C. and D.J.(or more fittingly, as Lyricist and Turntablist) both live and on record, has been compared to the call and response type solos exhibited by Miles Davis and John Coltrane. They have completely meshed the worlds of the turntables and the microphone. Sometimes the very structure of Eyedea's flow is based off of the rhythm of a scratch, and vise versa. This is hip hop at the threshold of complexity. One M.C. and one D.J. both shining as the soloist, back and forth and at the same time. With their new album E&A, Eyedea & Abilities have not only grown and settled into their own but have found a way to bridge their battle driven Hip Hop beginnings with their desire to be thought provoking creative artists.