Eyedea & Abilities E & A

Blending underground hunger with the confidence of accomplished veterans, Eyedea & Abilities bring some truly dynamic hip-hop to the table with their second album. The Minneapolis duo are well-regarded in hip-hop circles for their list of accomplishments. M.C./Lyricist Eyedea has an extraordinary flow that has served him well as a freestyler enabling him to win many battle competitions across the U.S. DJ/turntablist Abilities has also spun circles around other DJs and his presence on mix-tapes over the years has set the underground on its ear. While the artists earned a mixed critical reception when they combined for their first album (2001’s First Born), there is nothing uneven about E & A. Eyedea is a pesky braggadocio, spitting out disses ("You sold a lotta records but I gotta question/how many ended up back in the used section?/All of them!” he taunts on "Reintroducing”) like a mouthy schoolyard bully cracking his crew up at your expense. Meanwhile, in much the same way that Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark elevate Jurassic 5’s cornball "Don’t mistake us for no corny-ass crew” stance, Abilities provides E & A with an eclectic musical background, employing complex beats while sampling sounds from popular (hip-hop) culture. Sound bites from established MCs like Redman and members of the Wu-Tang Clan are filtered onto the record, while cinephiles will delight at the strange film scenes Abilities weaves throughout the album (snippets from Election, Storytelling, and Chasing Amy among other films are used provocatively). All in all, E & A stands up to repeated listens and, if it catches enough ears, it may prove to be the sleeper hip-hop record of 2004. (Epitaph)