Micheal Eyedea Larsen: A life remembered

Mikey was an inspiration to the hip-hop community and beyond

Micheal Larsen, known to many as the hip-hop artist Eyedea, died two months ago, three weeks shy of his 29th birthday. He was found in bed, in his St. Paul apartment, the victim of an accidental drug overdose.

His death made national news: One of Rhymesayers Entertainment's most inspiring artists was suddenly silenced.

It has been said we each own four faces: the one we show strangers, the one we show friends, the one we reveal to family, and the one we keep to ourselves. To say we knew Mikey "Eyedea" Larsen would be to say we knew them all. No one but Mikey could know all four.

There is the tendency, when a performer dies, to focus most intently on the "artist" face. Mikey would've asked, "Was that really me?" And the answer is no, it was the intimate and intelligent face that he generously shared with friends and fans alike; no small thing, mind you, but it wasn't who he was, just what he gave.

One pauses awkwardly and painfully when witnessing death at such a young age, rather than at the completion of the grand arc of life. Mikey was still building his wild arc when he left us. He was high up there, heading toward some big curve in the sky, still this side of the summit. He could see a lot from his vantage point and he wrote about it often. Thousands embraced his words:

On this I stand
The oasis of limbo
Adjacent to my generation
Facing out the window
Waiting for some ventilation
Patient while the wind blows
Graceful in its demonstration
Overall innovation (an ovation)
On this I stand
A fountain of youth, sovereignty
A thousand syllables more than a pound of flesh
A deep breath of achievement, a dream and a wakeup call
Another hall of the quest
On this I stand

Some say there's danger in feeling this world too deeply, and that an exquisitely tuned sensitivity to the many layers of the moments of the day is perilous. Many who've learned the hard way don't wish it on their own kin. Yet there is also sparkling wonder available in those mysterious depths. So, others argue, if one can find a way, one ought to visit there, and visit often. Mikey had his own penthouse in that sublime world.

He responded to life's commotion with dizzying lines that swirled around a listener with ferocity. In concert he broke open his heart and swam in the very pool of emotion that created. It was exhilarating, and in that way he was a pure artist.

There are many different ways to turn when learning of an early death: Lamenting the loss is the most common; treasuring the time, however brief, is more soothing. Mikey's death calls for both, in equal measures, and they both come rolling in, like relentless waves, recklessly crashing against the silence he left us.

Reality is mine to play with and mold
The best thing I ever did was let go
So let go of the models.
Transcend the physical mind
And peacefully become part of the whole
The walls came tumbling down, but this time it was for keeps
I've been running around, looking for my feet
Now they're a part of the ground, and in the ground complete.

 
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