Another white emcee with battle skills for days, Scribble Jam titles, Blaze Battle championships, and he was only 18. Eyedea seemed to be destined to have a career of continued praise and accolades. Until “First Born” dropped in 2000. I guess people were expecting more battle rhymes. What they got instead was some of the most introspective, deep, and complex rhymes ever captured on wax. Often delivered quickly, Eyedea spit too many ideas in too short a span and people couldn’t keep up. Truth be told, the album was way too smart for 99% of the people that heard it. And you know the rule, if you don’t get it, you diss it. Granted, Abilities beats left a lot to be desired, but you couldn’t front on Eyedea. So here we are 4 years later, Eyedea has another album under his belt and Abilities has honed his production skills working with I Self Divine.
If anything, “E&A” is one of the finest unions of an emcee and a DJ you’ll find. “Reintroducing” proves that instantly, as Eyedea’s rhymes are manipulated by Abilities as he spits them (or so it seems at least). The track is also a notable because the chip on Eyedea’s shoulder has grown noticeably and his tongue starts lashing; something that continues throughout the album. Yes, he can still battle kiddies (see “E&A Day, “Act Right”). “Star Destroyer” is another great example of both their talents, basically Abilities who hooks up a booming beat and murders an Xzibit vocal sample for the chorus.
Eyedea is still at his best when he gets thoughtful though. “Man Vs. Ape” is a scathing attack on the ideals of the modern man and how primitive we remain; “if your beliefs are different from mine then we’re gonna fight/who needs peace when you can profit from being right.” “Paradise” meanwhile, examines the trials of an emotionally abusive relationship. Aided by an always appropriate selection of vocal samples, Eyedea relays his loathsome feelings for the 9 to 5 with noticeable bitterness.
What makes Eyedea so impressive is that it isn’t only battle rhymes, and thoughtful storytelling, it is straight up skills. Just check the rapid-fire delivery and breathless cadence of “Now” and “One Twenty.” The latter is also noticeable for the interaction between Eyedea and Abilities, few tracks, if any, utilize the DJ this well. I would mention “Kept” as another example of Eyedea’s skills, but quite honestly DJ Abilities really steals the show on the decks. Abilities also shines on his solo joint “Two Men and A Lady,” a nice selection of turntable wizardry and movie samples (he is clearly a Kevin Smith fan). I can’t go without mentioning “Glass,” if nothing else than for the line, “Keep our mirrors dirty just in case vanity backfires”
I think it is safe to say that this was the album that fans were expecting the first time; those who saw the E&A live show before they heard the album. What’s even better is that it wasn’t either man compromising to give the fans an album they wanted, in fact it probably sounds more natural than anything else they’ve done. Just another quality selection to the Rhymesayers legacy.