Eyedea and Abilities – E&A - 3/5
You know, for an album I owe so much too, and for an album I consider to be done by two of the most talented and gifted artists in the hip-hop genre, I think this should be rated higher. I mean, Eyedea has got to be one of the most technical rappers out there, and with a mind as quick as his tongue. Known battle champion, known to be able to free-style lyrics as quickly as he can speak them in most any situation, and his first album showed that he could be more then fast, he could be deep. Then there is Abilities, who contributes both an extreme proficiency for scratch and an excellent taste for beats. Yet, instead of amazing, this comes off as meh. The closest comparison I feel comfortable making is that of shred and its shallow composition.
Actually, this works rather well as comparison. Think of your favored plank-spanker, and then translate that virtuoso into rap form. That’s E&A for you in a nutshell. In addition, just like the former genre, though technically skilled beyond belief, he’s effectively handicapped by a shallow repertoire of song ideas. All he talks about on this record is how good he is, the typical Rhymesayers emoti-songs, and other tired, over-used metaphors that are common through the genre. What’s really disappointing is the brief instances where he goes all out, rapping at an inhuman pace, and then simply stopping. These two moments in the album are highlights of skill, and the record feels like it needs more of these moments to make up for the lack of lyrical depth. While Abilities has gotten his sound straight from First Born, Eyedea seems to have lost his lyrical mojo.
The beats tend to have keys and lots of scratching, which provide a different feel from most hip-hop. The rhythms presented are strange yet funky and enjoyable, though they do not mesh very well with Eyedea’s style. I can’t think of what exactly they need to do differently, but these two guys, while great friends, just don’t work together up to their ‘abilities’. It’s still enjoyable, there is just too much wasted potential happening here.
That being said, the technical skills present do push this otherwise average album up a notch. Favorite tracks include Now and One-Twenty, for their speed sections, Act Right and Kept, for their humor, and E&A Day, simply because it sums up their attitude in a song that’s good.