Eyedea conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Eyedea Interview

March 2003

These are the transcripts of an interview with Eyedea. The interview was conducted by Hugo Lunny on March 9th, 2003.

Eyedea is best known for winning the much publicized Blaze Battle beating some of underground Hip Hop's best known emcees and coming out victorious infront of a huge crowd at the HBO televised event. Eyedea has worked with a wide range of artists but is best known for his work with Slug and his DJ; DJ Abilities.

MVRemix: Did the greatest rapper of all time die on March 9th?

Eyedea: I don't believe that there could be a greatest rapper of all time. There are the best of periods.

MVRemix: So do you think he was the best of his era or do you contest that?

Eyedea: I don't necessarily contest it, but it's just hard for me to say because what is the best? Most influential? Most revolutionary, most...it's hard for me to describe that kind of thing.

MVRemix: Is a freestyle, a freestyle, if it's written?

Eyedea: No, not even close. I look at it like Jazz, man. If you're performing a song, even if it has improv. things going on. It's not freestyled. But when you're playing the horn without anything going, that is.

MVRemix: Do you think you'll battle again? Is it in you to go back to it or do you think you've achieved all you need to with it?

Eyedea: I've definitely not done all I need to with it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'll do it again. I for sure won't do it until I'm famous. The reason I don't do it right now is because of the energy and thought, the preparation and fucking anxiety you go through when you're trying to win a major battle isn't worth it. It doesn't do enough for me and it's not fun anymore because I'm thinking about "How do I beat this guy?"

Whereas freestyling is just not thinking about anything. It's about how do I surprise myself, how do I make myself feel good about this? And that's the real freedom I appreciate of it.

MVRemix: So you're saying "until you're famous." Is that the goal you're aiming for, or are you searching for artistic integrity...or a nice mix?

Eyedea: I mean to me, when you're famous you can sort of have fun again because "Who gives a fuck?" win or lose. That's when I won't lose because I won't care so much that I'll be my dopest every time. See, the reason why I don't battle is because I can't be as tight as I am everytime I battle. Because I care too much about it, because it's too meaningful at that point. Or at least it was towards the end of it...when I stopped doing it. There's too much pressure.

Craze (DJ Craze - DMC Champion) is quoted saying that winning the third DMC was harder than any of the other one's because of the pressure...then it's not even fun anymore. Especially, and it's kind of different when you're doing DJ routines, but especially when it's based off of freestyles. I would never go into a battle writing rhymes or preparing anything and so the more anxiety, the more pressure - essentially the wacker you come off because you're not free anymore. You're thinking too much. Instead of letting a word come out, you're thinking if it has the impact that it needs. Sometimes when you play live, you get caught in the impact of that too. But it's still more fun.

MVRemix: People look at your freestyled work and your written work very differently. What is the process when you actually do sit down and write a track?

Eyedea: It's different every time. For every album, for every stage of my development its differed a lot. When I write lyrics for the most part now, we create the beat first. Then I kind of let that dictate what I want to do. It pulls the ideas out of me. If I just sit down and write lyrics I write to silence. Maybe some of that gets used, maybe some of it doesn't. It's more of an exercise.

Really the idea for the new Eyedea and Abilities record was creating the musical scape as complete as possible and then putting the words to it. I think that that way, I became more of an intelligent writer. Not intelligent substance wise, but through my approach. Where, on my last record, the space that I used between my words. The space in general of how much I write or how much I say in a certain amount of time or in a certain amount of musical time, like in an eight bar phrase is a lot more methodically planned out on the new shit that I did. To me that makes it feel better, even the little holes that I see through it now. I'm still cool with.

Whereas when I did the 'First Born' and 'Oliver Hart' records, the second I'd finished them. I swear to god, the second I got the master back - I listened to it and was like "Garbage!" I saw all the holes ad they overcame it.

We've been done with this Eyedea and Abilities record, which isn't gonna come out until Summer, but we've been done with it for a couple of months - for sure done with the writing, recording, producing process. I don't know if the mixes have been done yet. But, in the time I've had to listen to it - I'm not disappointed anymore. I feel like my delivery, my words, my word choices are at their maximum right now and the little that I see passed it is what I'm gonna use for the next shit.

Now I'm on some whole other shit. I want to actually sit down and write the music from start to finish...no samples. Nothing. Just write the chords, write the progressions and straight up make Hip Hop ballads. That's where me and Abilities are right now - making a Hip Hop ballad with rapping and scratching, or rapping and scratching at the same time. It's really building these very musically inclined progressions. I think it's gonna be ill. We touched it on this new record, we touched it at least three times. Those three songs are both me and Max's (Abilities') favourite songs. Everything else, we're like "Yeah, it's good." But there are three which poke through and think that they're touching on something else that we haven't really fucked with yet.

MVRemix: So what can you tell me about the new record in terms of the title and whatnot?

Eyedea: There are two guest appearances; one emcee and one DJ. The basic point of this record was to take the turntables and make them an instrument, make them part of it. I'd say I'm rapping on about 60%, the rest is scratching. It's a lot of back and forth. He plays the role of what would traditionally be played by another rapper in the group. It's almost like there are two rappers; two front men. And that's awesome.

So the chorus would be something like me saying "Yeah" and then him [Eyedea mimes scratching] going "Y-Y-Y-Yip-Yip Yeah!" going back and forth. Then there are points where we build progressions then hit at the same time. We'll be doing the exact same pattern of rapping and scratching simultaneously. Shit like that has never been done and it's crazy. The record is self titled, it's called "E & A" we just wanted it to show that this is a developed piece of music that we can stand on.

Everybody I've played it for agrees that it's thirty times better than anything we've touched. We've really touched on good music, whereas I felt before we sounded like young kids experimenting with making music. I think with this, every single song sounds like we know what the fuck we're doing. Yet there are still experiments. There is a good part of the record that feels for us, maybe, a little more traditional sounding. Just for us, it's still weirder sounding than any other motherfucker's shit. But for us, I think it sounds a little more traditional though developed to a point that's really tasteful.

Anyways, the two guest appearances are a rapper named Karnage from the Twin Cities. He's also on the 'Oliver Hart' record, and DJ Infamous from The Allies. Abilities and Infamous... I'm not gonna say nothing about it now, but the song that they do together - I'm not even on it. It's just the two of them, it's fuckin' crazy. What they do has never been done.

MVRemix: So, aside from 'Oliver Hart' do you have any other aliases or things along those lines that you're gonna be working on?

Eyedea: [shakes his head] Nah...nope, no.

MVRemix: There was a huge rumour surrounding Puffy approaching you with a deal at the Blaze battle. Is there any truth to that or is it just a rumour?

Eyedea: Nope, he never approached me.

MVRemix: Aside from the album that you're working on that you're working on at the moment, are there any guest appearances that we have to look out for?

Eyedea: Nah, I really haven't made music over the past year with anybody. Haha, and I like that. The next time I make music with somebody, it's gonna be on some Jazz shit where it's got to be fuckin' dope, you know? I don't like a lot of the stuff that I've done in the past. I think I've done stuff in the past with some of the greatest rappers ever. But what we'd made always seems sub-par and half assed. I'm done with that, I'm done with making music that's half assed. Doing music on a beat...that's not music to me anymore.

I want that if I was famous, every song that you'd hear would be played in a stadium with fireworks at the end and beginning. Even if it's just a regular song about killing emcees - I want it to be significant.

MVRemix: So are there any last words you'd like to put to your fans/potential fans?

Eyedea: I would just say watch for the "E & A" record. Rhyming and scratching at the same time - nobody's doing that shit.

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