Eyedea & Abilities First Born

Although it tries, the debut album by Eyedea & Abilities never truly reaches the peak it aspires to attain. With "One," the substitute intro to First Born, Abilities (who produces the whole album) combines some cymbals and bongos with a few other sounds to back-up Eyedea's distorted vocals, before a banging-hip hop beat kicks in halfway through and Eyedea demonstrates that he isn't battle champ at Blaze Championship 2000, Rock Steady Anniversary '99 and Scribble Jam '99 for nothing. Add to that some of the most atmospheric cuts this side of Buck 65, courtesy of 1999 U.S. DMC finalist DJ Abilities, and you have the blueprint for what First Born should have always been. Moments like "...Powdered Water Too," "Big Shots," and "Eyes of Today" are further proof of what it could have been, but at other times the ingredients just aren't mixing. Abilities comes through with some beautifully layered beats, whether he keeps it smooth ("The Dive") or party packing ("Well Being"); Eyedea has concepts ("Birth of a Fish"), stories ("Read Wiped in Blue") and disses ("Blindly Firing"), but when combined on many of the songs, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Now, having said that, I can't really think of any song that demands skipping. Nearly every song is engaging, either lyrically or musically, and sometimes both. Unfortunately, it's those moments that show just how good Eyedea & Abilities could have made First Born. Maybe on the next one. (Rhymesayers)