Eyedea and Abilities have gone all Lil Wayne on us.
Anyone who pays attention to the world of popular rap music will have heard that Lil Wayne, the insanely rich, chart-topping, Grammy-winning, self-proclaimed “best rapper alive” is planning to release a rock album called “Rebirth” early next month (presuming it doesn’t get delayed for yet another year). “Weezy” has said that he turned his efforts toward rock music because he “got bored” with rap.
He’s not the only one.
Oh, but we were talking about Eyedea and Abilities, the St. Paul, Minn.-based rapper/emcee duo. Ever since Eyedea began snuffing out the competition at major rap battles – including the 1999 Scribble Jam and HBO’s Blaze-Battle World Championship in 2000 – the pair has peddled its brand of foul-mouthed braggadocio and stabbing turntablism across the country, producing a pair of critically well-received (though hardly chart-topping) albums on the Rhymesayers label along the way.
Then came last year’s “By the Throat,” an eleven-track album on which the duo wrapped itself in the fuzz and fury of modern heavy rock. Songs like “Spin Cycle” carry all the old E&A hallmarks – tongue-twisting rapping, frantic turntable scribbling, and heavy beats; but here those elements are layered together with chiming guitars, harmonized vocals, and a tight, radio-ready mix. It’s like Linkin Park meets Coldplay.
If that sounds like a mashup from hell….Well, I’m not altogether sold on it, either. Of course, these guys being these guys, there’s plenty of the more familiar flavors sprinkled in there: doses of herky-jerky techno-boogie; incongruous references to neuroscience and quantum mechanics; words your mom would slap you if you said at the dinner table.
Eyedea and Abilities return to Missoula for a gig at the Palace this Sunday, Jan. 31, at 9 p.m. They’ll appear along with Dosh and Grieves; it’s an 18-and-up show.
Oh, and if you come early, don’t be thrown off by the decidedly more downtempo wordsmithing on stage. There’s a reading by MFA student and fiction writer Megan Kruse and Hugo writer-in-residence Eileen Myles that starts at 5 p.m.