By Gilbert Garcia
In a way, it's fitting that the St. Paul, Minnesota, underground hip-hop duo known as Eyedea & Abilities cut their teeth on the hip-hop battle circuit. Four years after MC Eyedea won the HBO-televised Blaze Battle, he's still at war with his contemporary hip-hop peers, albeit not in the superficial way that MCs conventionally engage in verbal warfare.
Eyedea despises the mindless sexism and ego-glorification of mass-market hip-hop and he doesn't shy away from making it a subject of his songs. On the duo's new Epitaph CD E&A - a sterling followup to their 2001 debut, First Born - he dismisses such material as nothing more than "candy-coated, condom-flavored karaoke cover songs."
It's easy to understand why Eyedea & Abilities rave about Radiohead and OutKast with equal fervor. Both groups restlessly seek innovation at all times, reluctant to repeat any past achievements. Two albums into what should be a long career, the same can be said for Eyedea & Abilities. •