Michael ‘Eyedea’ Larsen Dead At 28



In the indie rap world, Michael “Eyedea” Larsen was seen by some as the underground Eminem. The talented Midwestern rapper and turntablist, who recorded under the name Eyedea for the Rhymesayers label, died suddenly over the weekend at his St. Paul, Minnesota, home at age 28.

His mother announced Larsen’s passing — a cause of death was not given at press time — writing on the MC’s Facebook page, “It is with great pain and sadness that I tell you my son Mikey (Eyedea) has passed away … At this time we kindly request your respect and our privacy as we process this devastating loss. We do, however, welcome your kind words, memories, and positive thoughts.” The family has set up a PayPal account for donations to pay for the cost of funeral services.

Known for his rapid-fire delivery and freestyle skills, like Eminem, Larsen cut his teeth by impressing fellow hip-hop heads in lyrical battles while still in his teens. He took the top prize at 1999′s Scribble Jam in Cincinnati and went on to win 2000′s Blaze Battle in Chicago as well, releasing his debut album, First Born, in 2001 in collaboration with his longtime musical partner DJ Abilities. Together they were known as Eyedea and Abilities and recorded for the hometown Rhymesayers record label, home to such fellow underground faves as Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Grayskul, Mr. Dibbs and Slug.

The duo often collaborated with their Rhymesayers brethren, recording songs with Atmosphere as well as other like-minded acts like Aesop Rock, Sage Francis and Blueprint. For 2006′s This Is Where We Were, released on his own Face Candy label, Larsen was backed by a live jazz group of the same name, recorded during a four-year hiatus from releasing Eyedea and Abilities music.

The duo returned, however, in late 2007 for a tour and again in 2009 as part of the Rock the Bells outing. The pair issued their final joint album, By the Throat, last year. His mom said Larsen had finished a new Face Candy album before his death, as well as a book of poetry, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. An autopsy is planned to determine the cause of death.

Larsen was reportedly in good spirits on Friday night when he hung out at Minneapolis’ First Avenue & 7th Street Entry to watch a show featuring Abilities and L.A. rapper Pigeon John.


Eminem: “I Had To Learn To Write And Rap Again”


Posted: Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How bad was Eminem’s descent into prescription drug addiction? It not only nearly robbed him of his life, it scrambled his brain so badly that he literally had to learn how to rap again, he revealed to the New York Post.

On the eve of his historic two-night stand at Yankee Stadium with Jay-Z #8212; and his two VMA wins #8212; the paper spoke to Slim Shady, 37, about his tumble into drug addiction and the long, hard road to redemption on his hit album Recovery.

“I had to learn to write and rap again, and I had to do it sober and 100 percent clean,” Em said, explaining the more mature, focused nature of his rhymes on Recovery. “That didn’t feel good at first … I mean it in the literal sense. I actually had to learn how to say my lyrics again #8212; how to phrase them, make them flow, how to use force so they sounded like I meant them. Rapping wasn’t like riding a bike. It was [as much] physical as mental. I was relearning basic motor skills. I couldn’t control my hand shakes. I’d get in the [recording] booth and tried to rap, and none of it was clever, none was witty and I wasn’t saying it right.”

The rapper recalled taking his first Vicodin when he was 24 or 25, back before he could afford anything he wanted. “It was easy in the beginning,” he said. “I didn’t have the money to get really involved in drugs. I’d do them when somebody offered them to me. As my career took off and the crowds got larger and life got faster, I reached out for that sh– more and more. I used it as a crutch to calm my nerves. Especially the sleeping pills.”

But as his addiction deepened, the drugs began affecting his art, stifling his creativity, shutting off his brain and making him so lazy he preferred watching TV to making new tracks. He said that while listening to albums such as 2004′s Encore, he can hear how high he was in the music. “I think the drug use was obvious,” he said.

While late partner Proof tried to get him off the pills, Em said even hearing deep concern from his childhood best friend wasn’t enough to get him to come clean. “He’d say what was on his mind,” Marshall said of Proof. “But as close as he was, it didn’t matter. I wasn’t ready to listen. There wasn’t a person who could tell me I had a problem.

What came next was a nearly four-year hiatus during which the rapper first went to rehab, but then relapsed and settled into a drug funk that he was only beginning to come out of when he released last year’s album Relapse. In retrospect, he realized that there were some problems with the record.

“I wasn’t disappointed when I put it out. When I felt that was later, when I was reassessing my work #8212; trying to figure out why my songs didn’t sound like they used to sound,” he said. “The further I got away from Relapse, I was able to hear the problems with all the accents I was using to slip in and out of characters, and how the serial killing didn’t work. The joke was over #8212; I ran it into the ground.”

He realized the problem was an obvious lack of “personal honesty” on the tracks, a situation he rectified on Recovery with such hit tracks as “Not Afraid” and the Rihanna collabo “Love The Way You Lie.” Once his head finally cleared, Em said, he was a new man, which might explain why he ditched plans to make Relapse 2 and start over with Recovery.

“When I got clean and sober, it was like I was a kid again,” he said. “Everything was new. Not to sound corny, I felt like I was born again. I had to learn my writing skills. I was relearning how to rap. I didn’t know if my MC skills were intact. But everything was fun and suddenly I started feeling happy. I hadn’t felt happy for a long time.”


Eminem Wins Online Music Legal Fight

Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rapper Eminem and the music production company that helped launch his career are entitled to increased royalties from digital downloads of the entertainer’s music on iTunes and other online retailers, a federal appeals court panel decided Friday.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a March 2009 jury verdict that Detroit-based FBT Productions was not owed royalties by Universal Music Group for downloads and cellphone ring tones.

The lawsuit for breach of contract was brought by FBT against Universal, which distributes Eminem’s recordings and is the world’s largest music company.

Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, was not a party to the lawsuit, which went to trial in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles last year, although he could benefit from the outcome.

FBT argued that Eminem is entitled to half the net receipts Universal gets from digital downloads, instead of the lower split agreed to in the company’s first contract with the rapper, signed in 1995 before the explosion in digital downloading.

The contract was amended in 1998 when FBT made a deal with producer Dr. Dre’s Aftermath/Interscope label, which is a unit of Universal, to release and market his albums. Eminem’s breakthrough, “The Slim Shady LP,” was issued in 1999.

The appeals court ruled that the contracts were “unambiguous” with respect to digital sales.

The district court “should have granted summary judgment to FBT,” U.S. Circuit Court Judge Barry G. Silverman wrote in the opinion. “We therefore reverse the judgment and vacate the district court’s order awarding Aftermath its attorneys’ fees.” Universal argued at trial that downloads from third parties such as Apple’s iTunes are no different from any other form of retail sales and are covered by royalty provisions outlined in the initial contract.

FBT, which is owned by brothers Jeff and Mark Bass, gets a percentage of the royalties Universal pays the entertainer.

At issue are the potentially huge royalties earned when Universal licenses Eminem’s music to third-party distributors, such as iTunes and cellphone companies, which market the songs as ring tones.

During trial, Jeff Bass testified that after his brother Mark discovered a 15-year-old Eminem during an open-microphone segment on a Detroit radio station in 1995 and signed him to a contract, they cut an album with him, “Infinite.”

The album was a flop, Jeff Bass said, but he and his brother nonetheless decided “there was something there.”

Subsequently, the Bass brothers wrote and produced more than a dozen songs for later Eminem albums on Aftermath, which sold almost 30 million copies around the world, Jeff Bass said. The siblings won Grammys for their work with the rapper.

Under questioning, Mark Bass said the initial 1995 contract seemed to cover “future forms of distribution,” but at the time, nobody predicted digital would become a major revenue source for the music industry.


Eminem Stays At No. 1, Expected To Break Platinum

Posted: Tuesday – June 6, 2010

Eminem’s new album Recovery will remain the top seller on both the American and UK charts for a second week.

The album sold over 700k in its first week and is expected to bypass platinum with the sales numbers are finally tabulated. Early reports suggest Eminem will push and additional 320-340k in the United States.

The Dream is expected to sell between 55 and 60k copies of his Love King.

Eminem’s single, “Love The Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna, has soared on the singles charts and the Detroit rapper has several other album cuts on the Billboard 100.

Recovery debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s European Albums chart as well as the American chart.

A full sales report will be released in AllHipHop’s ChartWatch, a weekly feature.


Eminem x Lil Wayne Re-Linking for “No Love” Video

Posted: Tuesday – June 15, 2010

What began at “Forever” and dripped to “Drop The World” has turned into the third return as Eminem and Lil Wayne are planning to drop their next visual together.

Featured on Recovery, the duo battle again to see who takes the crown of having the dominant verse for the Just Blaze produced track “No Love”.

Although Lil Wayne is currently locked away in Riker’s Island, Em stated that they were able to get his verse filmed before he said farewell to the public.

With the date still under wraps, it is expected to be the next single from Shady. Recovery drops June 22.

Jay-Z and Eminem To Collaborate On New York and Detroit Shows

Posted: Thursday – May 13, 2010

Jay-Z and Eminem are all set to join forces in a pair of concerts in each entertainer’s hometown.

At the New York show, the two rap giants will play the very first concert at the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. That show is September.

A couple weeks before the New York show is the Detroit show on September 2 at Comerica Park.

Eminem made the announcement at game two of the Yankees and Detroit Tigers doubleheader in Detroit.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime set of shows, and I know we’re both really going to bring it to our hometowns,” Eminem said Wednesday. “The fans are going to love this and so am I. It’s going to be historic.”

The pair also collaborated on the popular DJ Hero video game earlier this year.


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