Why You Should Listen to Eyedea

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In the year 2000, when I was first getting into underground hip hop, I came across this rapper from Minneapolis who blew my mind.

Edit 12.12: Eyedea was from St. Paul

Eyedea was a master of his craft.

Eyedea was a musical prodigy, beginning to tour at just 16 years old, and already starting to develop his signature style of fast paced delivery with mind-bending lyrics. He released his first work of genius at age 20.



Unfortunately, the underground hip hop scene – which had shown so much promise at the turn of the millennium – all but disappeared in the next decade. Eyedea released a few albums during this time, but they mostly went ignored (I was in school in North Carolina, deep into indie rock territory).

I imagine that he struggled with feeling insignificant or unnoticed, especially in the wake of his incredible success at the beginning of his career.

Eyedea died in 2010 at the age of 28 from an overdose.

Only now, as the online tools for spreading amazing art is falling into the hands of those of us who were influenced by geniuses like Eyedea, is this kind of hip hop starting to re-emerge.

Eyedea had the ideal mixture of emotional vulnerability, intellectual philosophizing, and straight up braggadocio. My hip hop trifecta.

But the man never got his propers. It is my feeble attempt to put his work in the spotlight that I included him in my Coverage project. So this here is my version of his song “Smile”.

If you like what you’re hearing, here are some more of my recommendations for Eyedea’s work:

6 thoughts on “Why You Should Listen to Eyedea”

  1. The term “underground hip hop” has been used to describe both indie hip hop (which is defined by its artists being unsigned or signed to independent record labels , rather than major record labels ) as well as alternative hip hop (which is defined by music that diverges from mainstream hip hop music such as gangsta rap ). As the term “indie hip hop” is indicative of the artists making the music rather than the music itself, it is not strictly a genre , but rather covers a range of styles with clearly discernable hip hop characteristics.

  2. he was the greatest battler ever, only lost 2 battles — 1 when he was drunk battling a friend (Murs) at Scribble Jam (when he was a judge), the other when he was battling a friend after he had gave that friend (Brother Ali)the winning line. During that time he was being courted by the likes of the biggest producers of the time (Dre and Puffy), having multimillion dollar record deals thrown in his face. He turned them down, and his opportunity to being the next Eminem, in favor of making real art. In my book, he was the greatest rapper there ever was.

  3. Awesome write-up, but I really don’t believe that his problems came from feeling insignificant due to his music being ignored. First, his albums weren’t ignored– all of his albums were getting passed around hip hop communities that I had been a part of growing up. I knew A LOT of hip hop heads who argued that Oliver Hart was the best album of the decade. Not to mention he decided to leave hip hop to play guitar music in smaller settings.

    1. Hey man! Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I guess it is typically a moot point to try to analyze someone’s darkness or depression. I was probably just projecting… as a big fan of the indie hip hop scene in the early 2000’s, I have always felt frustrated that the artists I loved weren’t getting the broader attention they deserved.

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