If you ever thought that hip-hop couldn't possibly come from two white boys in Minnesota, take a look at this Wake-Up Show clip with Eyedea and Slug. Eyedea, born Michael Larsen from St. Paul, Minnesota, was taken from this world too early at the tender creative age of 28 on October 16, 2010. He had died in his sleep and the preliminary autopsy showed that there was no evidence of trauma.
He toured the battle circuit from 1997-2001 earning his place amongst and against the best in the game. He won top prizes at prestigious battles such as Scribble Jam ‘99, the Rock Steady Anniversary 2000, and Blaze Battle Chicago 2000. He shared stages with Atmosphere, Slug and Brother Ali (other St. Paul rappers), Sage Francis, Aesop Rock and Blueprint as well as Wu Tang Clan, Evidence, M.O.P and toured with Rock the Bells 2004.
I remember when I first saw Eyedea, on stage with Brother Ali and Atmosphere in a tiny club that I was DJing at. This was the first time that I had seen white rappers that weren't my friends getting heckled at freestyle shows. They rocked my brain...I had never heard hip-hop like they made it, I had never heard of MCs blend the alternative of my skateboarding youth with the hip-hop of my soul. Eyedea took the mic and everyone shut up just to try to keep up with what he was saying. I remember going over our recording of the show over and over, just to listen to his rhymes. He was so incredibly witty and quick that the first time you hear him, you almost always have to rewind to truly appreciate what he's saying. Often his rhymes, when he wasn't battling were incredilbly poetic and philosophical and always told a story. Like Smile below:
Ten days ago, the music world lost a bright light that never was able to reach its potential shine. Do yourself a favor, look him up, have a listen, have your mind blown and buy a song or two. You won't be sorry.
Rest in Power, Michael. You won't be forgotten!
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Michael Larsen aka Eyedea was a well-known freestyle battle champion and underground rapper. His notable wins included the televised Blaze Battle sponsored by HBO (2000) and a victory at Scribble Jam (1999). He had appeared as a solo artist, and as the emcee half of the duo Eyedea & Abilities (along with longtime friend and collaborator DJ Abilities). His non-battle rhymes were generally philosophically or thematically based, and often told a definite narrative.