A quick guide to: Eyedea and Abilities

Eyedea & Abilities are a duo from the USA who have managed to combine hip hop with various styles that wouldn’t normally work. For instance, their latest collaboration is a mix of hip hop and the electronic/rock/grunge world. An odd mix on the face of it but the way they manage to balance both types speaks volumes about their talents. To give a quick idea of their CV’s, Eyedea is a battle hardened MC whilst DJ Abilities has won regional titles several times in the DMC championships. Enough of a resume to ensure respect from those in the know but to give you an idea of what a rap battle is check out this video:

Oh and that’s all made up on the spot without any rehearsing.

Moving onto what they pulled together as a duo, their first release was E&A back in 2004.

E&A combined some really abstract instrumentals provided by Abilites with the fast flowing of Eyedea. ‘Kept’ shows this off quite well with the instrumental and beat changing quite a lot, forcing Eyedea to change the speed of his delivery.

I know you’re thinking it, and you’re right. There isn’t anything particularly knew or amazing about that track, but its a good way to get you into it. To hit you up with something better, here is a track I referred to last week which is my personal favourite and is something that anybody can like. In terms of delivery of anger and emotion, its hard to get something better than this without straying into nu-metal territory and the subsequent embarrassment brought on by Stone Sour et al. I bring you ‘Glass’..

Following the emotionally laden punch that is Glass, the final track I’ll bring you from this album is ‘Paradise’. A track with similar feeling to Atmosphere – no surprise as they both came up on the same hip hop scene – the happy feeling of the track slowly collapses into the sad lyrics, juxtaposed by the happy instrumental. As ever in my one man crusade to prove that good hip hop exists out there that everyone can like, the lyrics are devoid of any of the regular themes of rap music and are open to everyone. Brilliant.

Fast forward five years and its time to bring a bit of a shock to the system.

Sounding more like Nine Inch Nails than almost anything else I’ve heard in hip hop, ‘Junk’ from their latest album By The Throat is still hip hop but with a metal-esque, heavily distorted guitar instrumental. In most cases when hip hop is mixed with metal the outcome is disastrous and is thus normally avoided. However, if you have the talent, you can do it.

Taking this even further, the second video from the album, for the track ‘Smile’, has a chorus in it. No, not a hook, but a chorus. One of the defining features of hip hop is that there is either a hook or the beat is sufficiently hip hop like to ensure that you can easily classify it in the genre even with a chorus. Harking back to Rowan‘s post What is Hip Hop?, this track is something I’m sure Jake, Jake Lawson, heck in fact everyone who writes for the blog (possibly not Alex) would like. Check it out:

Although they’ve been in the hip hop world for quite a while now, its easy to tell that the duo are at the forefront of it, probably enjoying the same amount of condemnation that K-os recieves for pushing the envelope. But fuck it, if it sounds good, take it even further and bump that shit!


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