What's the Big Eyedea?

Eyedea has gone from writing his story in a basement to rapping the cosmos on TV

A couple of generations ago, wisenheimers like Eyedea and Abilities might have been vaudeville hustlers or burlesque comedians. Today they make overambitious art for the lucrative "underground." On For Persons With DJ Abilities, Abilities once again shows himself to be a trip-hopper at heart--an atmosphere junkie indifferent to polyrhythms. Still, his bohemian-space-odyssey bongo rolls do give way to a unique, birdlike peep-scratching. And Eyedea occasionally manages to turn his philosophical epiphanies into musical ones. "A Murder of Memories" is an affecting veteran's tale told over two piano notes in an echo chamber, and the simplicity of Abilities's mournful melodeon wheeze mirrors Eyedea's uncluttered delivery.

Still, overthinking is part of Eyedea's charm. "Powdered Water Too" may be hip hop's first-ever attempt to make radical epistemology funky: "We don't know the meal," he raps. "We only know the menu that our brain tells us is real." And "The Dive" may be the perfect self-help-while-you-sleep cassette for any character who thinks life might have written him into the wrong movie. "The best thing I ever did was let go," Eyedea raps, reassuringly. If he sounds lost in space now, wait until he reaches his 20s.

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