While looking thru some old notes this week I stumbled across the fact that October 2011 is the 10 Year Anniversary of the Rhymesayers release of “First Born” by Eyedea & Abilities. It seems so hard to believe that it has already been a decade since that album dropped.
Although “First Born” is merely a glimpse of the great music that Eyedea would create in his career, it still stands as a critical moment in his development and made an important statement in Hip Hop at the time.
He was one of the few artists able to defy a common stigma in Hip Hop. He initially made his mark, on a national scale, as one of the best battle MCs this generation had ever witnessed. Then he delivered his first album, “First Born”, alongside long time collaborator, DJ Abilities, which was quite a far creative stretch from the typical battle MC. Of course, those who did not know quickly learned, he was never typical in his music or life path.
Eyedea was connected to his art, even if he wanted to he couldn’t stop from continuing to develop, grow, explore, experiment, and constantly reinvent himself. We had countless conversations about it. Whenever he spoke about his music it was always passionate, but never without him interjecting his oddball sense of humor that could instantly turn a serious moment to laughter and bring a smile to your face.
I remember hearing an early version of “First Born” that he gave me when he stopped thru my Time Travel Radio Show in Chicago at least a year before it dropped. I was a bit mind-boggled that someone so young was, not only so well versed on things that he spoke about, but so insightful, forward-thinking, and intelligent to expound on them and even offer solutions. So many artists tend to throw out laundry lists of problems and injustices, but rarely offer the alternative. Eyedea did both. Without a doubt, he spoke about things that I, 10 years+ his elder, didn’t really know about or in some cases hadn’t even thought about.
“First Born” covered a wealth of unique topics and rarely covered and/or untouched perspectives. “Birth Of A Fish” forced you to look at your own limitations thru the perspective of a talking fish. “Powered Water” challenged you to think outside of box/cubicle that the world seems to love to place you in. Artists have previously covered the effects of war, but “A Murder Of Memories” so effectively paints the emotional turmoil and long-term damage, that it sets itself apart from other songs on the same topic. In fact, the psyche and fragileness of the mind was a reoccurring topic on “First Born”, including “The Dive” and “Well Being”. That line of thinking was something that developed, readdressed and ongoing in his music.
Human relations was another subject that became a larger part of his music with each new project, ultimately resulting to some of his most powerful songs. “Read Wiped In Blue” represents the roots of that direction, which lead to classic songs in his catalog such as “Bottle Dreams”, “Paradise”, “Smile”, etc…
As if the powerful content were not enough, he covers each topic/song with an impressive display of varied flow and style. Ultimately, “First Born” was a battle album, but the battle was far more reaching than punchline slinging rapper in front of him, it was a battle with a whole world of oppressive and controlling ideas that firmly stand in front and around all of us. How’s that for ambitious!
Honestly, I don’t know how to bring this to a close. In so many ways it was hard to write, but then again all of these memories brought smiles to my face.
Truthfully, even harder to believe that “First Born” is 10 years old, is to believe it has been a year since Mikey passed away. My mind still struggles to accept it and believe it. I often submerge myself in his music, words, and our shared memories and it inspires me to share these things with those who I know love and miss him, as well as those who may not have had the opportunity to experience these songs and stories before.
Mikey, you are missed and loved. Your thoughts, passions and “Eyedeas” will live on thru your music and our stories…
Written By Kevin Beacham