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 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: