More generally, Eyedea & Abilities base their sound, for all their innovation, in the oldest hip-hop music. The sonic spaces defined by Abilities are full of classic sounds like scratching and the sampling of stretches of thematically related dialogue from films or television programs. Yet these two set the genre on its head with the original ways in which they treat its basic ideas.
It has often been pointed out that hip-hop is approaching its quarter-century age marker. While it has so far been able to resist nostalgia tours, it is showing other signs of institutionalization. A few educational organs now transmit its techniques, and a consciously progressive underground has taken shape, carrying on a conversation with the genre's mainstream. Eyedea & Abilities belong to this underground, and they are poised to make the most influential kind of underground music: the kind that takes classic models for points of departure.
If you're curious about these developments but grew up in a time when profanity and obscenity were rare on radio and records, know that Eyedea & Abilities have less of these than most of their counterparts, although well more than none at all. Eyedea & Abilities appear at the Blind Pig on Wednesday, November 17.
[Originally published in November, 2004.]