Eyedea & Abilities, "E&A"

"Hey, yo, Abilities, man. Yo, I got a little something I gotta getoff my chest right here. A'ight, dig this, man: I'm sick of all thesepunk motherfuckers in this rap game, youknow'msayin? I'm sayin' thesefools steppin' up to us, knowin' they shit is straight GAHbage... youknow what I'm talkin' about: E&A don't play that shit, man."And there you have it: the first twenty seconds of "Act Right", less acouple of DJ Abilities' scratched responses. How many cliches can youcount? Well, a good half of this album isn't much better. In theinterest of saying something nice, however, Eyedea is a darned goodfreestyler, and his partner is lightning-quick on the crossfader. Onstage, they're clever and nimble and their technique is impressive, andif they still battle these days, they're probably worth seeing in thatcontext. Sadly, that's not what you get on E&A; instead,you mainly get to listen to juvenile you-suck rhymes and fag jokes fromthe comfort of your living room, where there presumably isn't anOOOOH-ing crowd around to convince you that cracks about trading headfor "creative juices" are witty. Oh, and then there are some pornosamples, and some tedious choruses, and Abilities scratches up some"FUNKY!"s and "WE GON' KEEP IT RAW!"s at a zillion miles a second tokeep the kids excited. If you've ever messed around with turntables,you'll admire his chops, but since his partner on the mic onlyoccasionally shuts up about how great they are (to say how much itsucks to get a job, for example, before bragging that he's never hadone), you'll also frequently wish that E&A was aninstrumental effort. Which is too bad, because at his best, Eyedea islike the Yngwie Malmsteen of MCs, and his vocals can mesh brilliantlywith Abilities' zany beats and scratching: "One Twenty" is terrifichead-nodding music for about half of its running length, and it's justone of several kamikaze rhymes on the disc. So much of it is somud-ditch dumb, though, that it's hard to sit around and wait for thegood tracks. They try to go out on a thoughtful, angsty note with theReznor-rap of "Glass" (TIP: Try not to be too surprised by the "shattering" metaphor.), but it's really too late by that point. Go looking for their recently-released Road Mix(23 minutes of standout moments from their shows, an edited version of"One Twenty" that doesn't overstay its welcome, and a frank discussionof the Smurfs that's funnier than anything on E&A) instead of wasting your time on this one.