“Playing live is like a drug. It induces a manic state for me,” says hip-hop MC Eyedea. “Usually I vomit uncontrollably afterwards, cry or, if it’s really good, I pass out. I put everything into it. If you’re a musician and not giving it your all, what are you even doing?”
As one half of the Minneapolis-based hip-hop Eyedea & Abilities, Eyedea has become an integral part of the eclectic underground scene that fascinated him at a young age. In 1997, when Rhymesayers Entertainment was in its formative years, Eyedea was 15-years-old and itching to get his hands on the mic. Along with key players Sean “Slug” Daley and Anthony “Ant” Davis of Atmosphere, he watched it flourish into the reputable record label it is today.
“I was part of the initial setting of Rhymesayers when I was a teenager,” he explains. “Slug and Ant are a bit older so it’s more their thing, but I like to say I helped get it started.”
While Eyedea originally gained exposure for being a fearless battle rapper, it was his 2001 Rhymesayers debut with DJ/producer Abilities, First Born, that elevated his status. Soon Eyedea & Abilities began touring with label mates Atmosphere and Brother Ali. While Abilities’ beats were rather straightforward, the collage of sound they radiated was impossible to overlook. Eyedea & Abilities’ 2009 release, By the Throat, displays their willingness to experiment with hip-hop and expand its parameters..
“I write by usually searching inside of myself for what I’m dealing with emotionally and psychologically. I have a steep reservoir of certain topics,” he reveals. “I try to write what I’m actually thinking about. A lot of times it’s stream of consciousness and attempting to be honest with myself.“
Still on tour in support of By the Throat, the miles that Eyedea & Abilities have covered is a testament to their undying work ethic.
“If you aren’t passionate about music, you will be destroyed in the process. Without the intense desire to play and create it, I don’t see how you could even deal with touring,” he says. “You have to love music on all levels.”