Never heard of Eyedea & Abilities? Fair enough, I hadn't either. But trust me, hear this once and it'll never stray far from your stereo...
The Minneapolis rap duo's set up is a simple one: Eyedea - a battle-hardened MC and lyricist of some note - raps whilst Abilities provides scratches seemingly sent from Heaven. The two interact superbly - Eyedea posing questions that are answered by samples mixed to form coherent sentences - and the feeling is one of fun over frontin'. There's nothing here about girls, guns and money. Well, what there is_ about those subjects is delivered in a dissing manner: when a girl offers to get her tits out for the pair, Eyedea raps about her having no self-respect rather than wrapping her under his arm and retiring to his hotel room. What there is a lot of is talk of "punk mother fuckers", the sorts that one presumes Eyedea used to battle against. His claims that he'd rather laugh at the poor rappers he's faced than respond to their rhymes would smack of arrogance if the man wasn't so damn good - his quicksilver tongue weaves words quicker America drops bombs. Oh, and that's another thing - _'E&A' isn't saturated in politics, unlike many similar exponents of this type of hip hop (certain members of the Lex and anticon rosters spring to mind). The whole thing is as accessible as Jurassic 5 or Dilated Peoples, yet feels so_ much better. It's not commercial at heart, but _'E&A' is slick enough to persuade occasional hip-hoppers - like myself - to investigate Eyedea and Abilities further. Party tracks like 'One Twenty' nestle next to more sombre, slower offerings like 'Paradise'; in short, there's something for everyone, and it's all good.
Saying something like 'hip hop album of the year' would be stupid - my knowledge of the genre is patchy to be kind, and I haven't much of a clue what's come out in the last six months - but it'll take something pretty amazing for this not to be _my_ hip hop album of the year.
9Mike Diver's Score