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Before Eyedea & Abilities were an MC/DJ pair, they were Mike Larsen and Gregory "Max" Keltgen, two friends from Minneapolis. In 1997, however, while still in high school, the duo began competing in the battle circuit, gaining recognition from high-profile wins at 1999's Scribble Jam and the 2000 HBO-televised Blaze-Battle World Championships, among others. Despite rumors of possible deals with Puff Daddy or Eminem, Eyedea & Abilities chose to sign with fellow Minnesotans Rhymesayers, and released their debut album, First Born, in 2001. A departure from the battle raps they had previously done, First Born was an introspective concept album musing about the state of hip-hop and life. Because both Eyedea & Abilities were involved in other projects (Oliver Hart and the Micranots, respectively), their second album, E&A, didn't come out until 2004. By the Throat arrived in 2009. On October 17 of the following year, Eyedea died in his sleep of an apparent drug overdose.
Eyedea & Abilities (often abbreviated as E&A) was an influential American indie rap duo from Saint Paul, Minnesota, consisting of DJ Abilities (Gregory Keltgen) and rapper Eyedea (Micheal Larsen). The group was founded in 1999 and became a prominent figure of the 90s underground hip hop scene, known for Larsen's philosophical and socially conscious lyrics, along with Keltgen's dynamic experimental fusion of stylistic elements from both rap and rock, as well as electronic music. The group was active until Larsen's death in October 2010.
Over the course of just over a decade, the duo collaborated with many well-known hip hop groups and artists such as Aesop Rock and Sage Francis, playing a preeminent role in the emerging underground rap movement. Larsen's highly successful background work in freestyle rap and rap battles, along with his greatly introspective, complex and poetic sense of lyrical integrity heavily influenced E&A's distinctive musical output and largely defined the group as a unique and stylistically independent presence within alternative hip hop.Allmusic history
Eyedea (who also performed under the name Oliver Hart and with freestyle group Face Candy), became widely known because of his battle and freestyle skills. Eyedea was best known for his victory at the Blaze Battle, which was aired on HBO, showing some of the best underground battlers in action. Eyedea originally toured with Slug and other Rhymesayers crew. He made the jump from a battle emcee with the release of his first album First Born by joining forces with DJ Abilities. DJ Abilities was known for winning three DMC awards and for his work on his mixtapes and 1200 Hobos. Following a solo effort by Eyedea in 2002 under the name Oliver Hart, Eyedea and Abilities released E&A in 2004, which returned Eyedea back to his battle rapper roots.
After the success of the 'E&A' album, Eyedea released "This Is Where We Were" in 2006 with his live freestyle/jazz group Face Candy. Around the same time, he went on to form Carbon Carousel, an alternative rock band made up of other Twin Cities musicians. They have released one EP titled "The Some of All Things or: The Healing Power of Scab Picking", in addition to two singles, both containing three songs. This brought on speculation that Eyedea & Abilities were no longer together. However, in August 2007, the duo announced on their Myspace that they would be at the Twin Cities Celebration of Hip Hop performing old songs, as well as new material.
Eyedea & Abilities returned to the road in the Winter of 2007 with their 'Appetite For Distraction Tour'. Accompanied by fellow Minnesota artists Kristoff Krane and Sector7G, the tour was mainly on the west coast until the Spring of 2008 when the duo brought the 'Appetite For Distraction Tour' to listeners in east coast cities. The tour has garnered excitement from fans, as E&A had taken a four-year hiatus, and the duo's next album was one of the most anticipated among the independent hip hop scene. The album "By the Throat" was released through Rhymesayers Entertainment on July 21, 2009.
In 2007, Eyedea created a book of poetry and art with painter Louis N. LaPierre, who is also responsible for Face Candy's 'This Is Where We Were' album art. The book was titled 'Once A Queen... Always A Creep'. Only 60 copies were made. It was on sale during Eyedea & Abilities 'Appetite For Distraction' Tour.
Eyedea, or Micheal Larsen, was also the founder of Minnesota-based independent record label Crushkill Recordings. The label is host to experimental hip hop band Abzorbr, as well as the rock band Carbon Carousel.
On October 16, 2010, Micheal Larsen's mother found him dead in his home as a result of an opiate toxicity. Ramsey County officials ruled the overdose accidental and have not yet released the drugs involved.