Eyedea, aka Micheal Larsen, remembered by friends and fans (UPDATED)

Categories: Obituary
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Photo by Denis Jeong Plaster
Rapper, writer, poet. Eyedea was all of these things, and on Saturday when he left the world he so fearlessly captured in his lyrics, it seemed there were no words to do him justice.

In his 28 years, Micheal Larsen carved his initials indelibly in Twin Cities hip-hop history, inspiring countless people along the way with his feverish performances, unforgettable battle raps, genuine approach to life, and famous gap-toothed smile.

Here, fans and friends share what Eyedea meant to them.






"He's one of the reasons that a lot of people -- not just me -- got into hip hop in the first place. He was a huge figure in the post-Rawkus indie hip-hop movement. Aside from that, he was a good dude and he was hilarious. He will definitely be missed. He and Abilities were [initially] called Sixth Sense and had a song on that Headshots tape - I think it was called "Techniques." Me and Mike Mictlan would drive around and listen to that."
 
P.O.S.

"I wish everyone could really know how hilariously funny Mikey was. Every time I was around him my face and sides would hurt from laughter."
Brother Ali via Twitter

"Mikey always pushed the boundaries of what was accepted as truth and commonplace and was always reaching for something greater. He made everyone around him better because he had such a confidence and charisma about him that it was infectious and impossible to ignore. The only comfort I can take in his passing is knowing that where ever he is now, he's doing just fine because he never had trouble making friends or finding his own path.

Mikey carried almost a child-like sense of curiosity and exploration with him that set him apart from most. He was a couple years younger than me but I always saw him as a teacher. I also thought of him as a student who was always eager to learn; there were few subjects that he was not interested in learning about and even mastering, from martial arts, slight-of-hand magic tricks, quantum physics and stand up comedy, to name a few.

I started performing with Eyedea & (DJ) Abilities as their 'hype-man/back-up vocalist' in 1997 when we were all still in high school. I was hugely influenced by such talented and passionate artists and even back then I knew that Mikey was special and would leave a lasting impact on music or whatever he decided to do with himself. He was looked at as almost a child prodigy when it came to his freestyle improvisation abilities, and quickly recognized by his peers and everyone in the local hip hop community as an undeniable force to be reckoned with. We ended up touring North America and the UK together and it was Mikey's hilarious, spontaneous wit and sense of humor that helped pass the long, meandering hours on the road and his off-the-cuff personality that created classic stories almost faster than we could recount and reflect on old ones. He was always fun to be around and very knowledgeable about music, which he studied with an admirable devotion. I lost a friend and the world lost a wonderful artist and caring human being, gone before his time. Rest."

Alexei Moon Casselle aka Crescent Moon

"I remember doing a guitar session for him way back in the day. He had piano books and vocal books everywhere in his basement studio. H said he was teaching himself piano and taking vocal lessons. We actually sat down and had a mini guitar lesson; I taught him barre chords and he taught me what it took to be a complete artist. He reminded me of a famous painter working on all cylinders 24 hours a day. A creative intellectual. He just wanted to make cool art. He was unafraid of new territory, and he was willing to be vulnerable artistically. I also remember him mentioning his close knit supportive family. It seemed they understood him and let him flourish as an individual. I always thought that was beautiful."
Mike Michel, a.k.a. Bill Mike


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Photo by B Fresh


"I'm not the most outgoing person in the world, but Micheal always made sure everyone in the room knew my name. Backstage at the Pigeon John show on Friday was no different; as soon as we got down there he stopped the conversation and asked the trademark question: 'Does everyone know my friend Brady?'

One of my favorite memories of Micheal comes from the July E&A show in Chicago. While listening to top 40 radio in the van the day of the show I casually mentioned that Gwen Stefani was on the short list of women who I would marry without meeting. He responded by telling me that he was pretty sure she'd just had a baby. During the show that night I snuck on stage with my camera to get a crowd shot. Micheal noticed and brought me to the front of the stage, then told a room of over 200 people the initial story as well as my response to the fact that Mrs. Stefani had just had a kid: "Baby just a word, Brady right here." I miss you Micheal and know that you're somewhere living up to your full potential by being as unpredictable and unexpected as ever."

Brady O'Rourke, Skill Krane Booking & Management


"I only interviewed Eyedea a few times in a dozen years, but we always talked for hours, and there weren't many people in local music for whom I felt more personal tenderness. There was the fact, first of all, of watching him grow up. He was 16 when I first saw him open for the Abstract Pack at Sweeney's in 1998, when he and DJ Abilities were calling themselves Sixth Sense. He was a fast and comically philosophical freestyler. Eyedea was the perfect name for him, because ideas animated Michael. Every show after that was a revelation.

Slug once said he took Mikey under his wing because he was afraid of him, and I believed it. But Eyedea was also the kind of light that would shine whether or not anyone was there to see it. The same rock star who could take a club's breath away was as happy handing out numbered, hand-painted CDs to a few fans after a night of jazz improvisation or punk. There was an innocence about Eyedea that was pure. I loved and championed his last album with Abilities, but the moment was the thing for Michael. He was always excited about what was coming next. That's what I'll take away from Eyedea. He was a truly funny, sweet, and generous person, and I'll miss him."
Peter Scholtes, writer


"The passage for 10/18 from this silly quote of the day that I read was Oscar Wilde - "He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize." Mikey did both. I was a fan of his since the first time I saw him perform 15 years ago - freestyling in the bathroom at a random First Avenue Sunday night dance party. He was a creative genius. More than that I will remember him for not only his willingness to take time to talk to a fan, but his genuine good nature during those conversations. Thanks Mike."
Tim Puder


"I wish he was still here. He was one of the kindest and most down to earth people I ever knew in the local scene and was part of my inspiration (along with the rest of Rhymesayers) to pursue my dreams of doing radio and hip-hop.  Micheal "Eyedea" Larsen, may you rest in peace.  You might not be here in the physical sense, but you are still with us in every waking moment. Especially when you recited the following from "Hay Fever," which I would say is fitting: Winter takes the warm away, spring takes the cold away, summer takes the rain away and fall took away my friend."
Ali Elabbady a.k.a.Egypto Knuckles



"I remember Mike as a teacher, a comedian and a poet. Obviously an amazing rapper, but to me it was his sense of humor, wit and intellectual prowess that always fascinated me. In some of my conversations with him, I remember never being bored and always being interested and involved in what he had to say. Perhaps because I was in the presence of greatness, or maybe just simply the fact that I was listening to a genuinely honest and funny human being. Either way I'll always listen to Eyedea and smile, knowing that he was always one step ahead of everyone else."

Analyrical, Background Noise Crew


"I remember hanging with Mike at the last Wu Tang show with ODB and even then he was very well respected. He was a hell of a cool guy and well deserved of anything he ever got."

Stephen Golden, owner of Sicmats


"The thing I'll remember the most about Mikey is the intellect and enthusiasm he brought to everything. Instead of another surface-level interaction at a rap show, he treated people with thought and care. I remember many exciting conversations on subjects ranging from music to metaphysics (most of which I was completely out of my depth in). He was a tremendous talent, a powerful influence, and a joy to those who knew him. It's impossible to express this kind of a loss in words. He will be missed."

James Laurie a.k.a. Tom Servo, Doomtree


"He inspired me to get back into real hip hop rather than electronic music. As promoter and a fan of music for many years, I was only listening to EDM after I found it but he pulled me back in and showed me that hip-hop can have meaning rather than what rap sometimes displays. He made a lot of peoples days brighter for a long time to come."

Bill Boldenow, promoter



"Eyedea was a pleasure to shoot. He always had such an up-beat and creative energy. Each performance I experienced felt like an evolution to the next level of artistic excellence. I posted this pic yesterday on Facebook from our City Pages slideshow, and said how he told me he had worn these sneakers for years. Brother Ali's wife commented on my link, saying that her and Ali were talking about Eyedea's sneakers and how he was always known for that pair. People loved him."
Rebecca "B Fresh" McDonald

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Photo by B Fresh
The Eyedea we knew and loved
"Legend status. Rest in peace, Eyedea."
Dave Nada


"If I know anything about the way the universe works, its that energy is never lost. Micheal had a kind of energy and spirit that was totally unmatched elsewhere and I know that kind of light isn't simply gone just because its out. The things that made him special, pieces of that spirit, its all still out there and while he may be gone to this particular reality, he certainly is not forgotten to us. His memory reminds to me honor my loved ones and to tell my friends how much they mean to me, even though I never got the chance to say it to him."

Elizabeth Boekman


"I remember being in LA for Coachella in '04. Seeing the whole Rhymesayers crew in a venue like that was amazing. Seeing how the crowd received the MPLS heroes was vindicating. I remember after Eyedea's set there were 30 or so people asking where they were from. I was happy  to say from my hometown."
Christopher Slinde, local hip-hop fan 
 


"One of the most inspiring lyricists and easily the most fascinating people to hold a conversation with that I have ever had the honor of meeting. The world is a lesser place."
 
Marc Mastel, local hip hop fan

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Photo by Erik Hess
Eyedea with close friends and collaborators Eric Blair (No Bird Sing) and Kristoff Krane


"The first time I saw Eyedea was when he was doing shows with Atmosphere - it was Eyedea, Ablities, and Slug. It was over 10 years ago but I will never forget that lineup, it really turned me on to hip hop and and made me appreciate the art. I'll never forget him doing "God's Bathroom Floor" or "Scapegoat," or the many other times I saw him afterwards. I thank him for turning me on to the music and will forever be thankful."
Josh Boyd, local hip-hop fan


"I met Mikey in 2003. Our first conversation was about Beck's "Sea Change" album...we discussed the album upstairs in First Ave for over a half hour. For seven years, every time we saw each other we discussed Beck. I will miss your thoughtful conversation that never went in a conventional direction."
Teresa Fox


"I am just a being who was truly influenced and touched by Eyedea, his music got me through many tough times and i will be forever thankful. He was one of the reasons I joined the RSE street team, and its so damn awful to lose such a talented and beautiful person in the hip hop scene and in life in general, I saw him perform many times and I just can not believe this tragic news.He will live on through his music, poetry and Art! R.I.P Micheal "Eyedea" Larsen, we love you!"
Kim Valencia, local hip-hop fan


"Mike came to a show we (The Homegrown Crew) did with Kristoff Krane at an all ages venue in Northfield. He bought me a whiskey at the bar next door and I got to pick his brain about what makes a truly great performance. Give yourself completely to the crowd, he said. Do something completely crazy to capture their attention and entertain the fans above all else.

 Later that night a group of us freestyled around a tiki bar at a backyard party. Mike made sure everybody there spit a few lines, even if it was their first and only cypher. The subject matter turned metaphysical and he started up a rap dialogue about the finitude of existence and the unknowable, mysterious nature of the universe. I've never heard anybody speak so articulately, meaningfully, or eloquently about sometime so abstract-- and he did it while freestyling. Michael was a philosopher, a poet, and an inspiration to anyone who was blessed to cross his path. Rest easy."
Pete, The Homegrown Crew


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"Favorite moment: 2010 Walker Art Center Open Field Session had just finished and Mike was smoking a cigarette talking to two hotties. Then Marie (pictured, above) and Ava walked up sporting E&A & Toki Wright t-shirts and Mike immediately dismissed the cuties to talk to the REAL fans. RIP Mike. Thank you for keeping it real."
Racheal Rassier


"It is always a shock when we lose someone unexpectedly, someone with so much talent and creativity, and someone who had a big heart. Over the years I had gotten to know Eyedea through my camera lens, at Radio K on The Beat Box, and at various concerts, events, and house parties. An inspiration to many, filled with energy and laughter, his voice may have been silenced too soon but will live until the end of time. Mikey you will be missed..."
Christina Rimstad


"Here's a video of Eyedea taken at the Black Dog Café this summer. I remember him from the Rhymesayers Collective but had not seen him in a while. What an amazingly fluent performer. I am not a hip-hop fan but do love poetry... I was blown away by Eyedea's lyrics, which seem to be a finished product even though it was obviously improvised. He started out the evening eating a slice of pizza, then describing the pizza and how it slid into his empty belly to fill a void, talked about the natural ingredients nurturing him. It was amazing, truly, to see someone so inventive."
Val Escher, Freestyle Communications


"I assumed that I would see you again, that I would be able to thank you for all the wisdom you shared so long ago, for the anecdotal warnings against "bad trips", for the "high road" advice, for the encouragement to just be me, for asking me to sit on the ground and really feel the grass, for telling me to get on a city bus and just go because life is about the journey and not the destination, for always singing Pink Floyds, "we don't need no education...", for not laughing when I freestyled and wrote you a cheesy poem, for "'all of her heart!' get it?!", for being you...you were always a beautiful and brilliant star, long before the whole world knew it. You will be missed, Mikey."

Heaven Negasi


I met Mikey in 1998 at First Ave (didn't know then but I think it was a Soundset Wednesdays hip-hop night that Rhymesayers used to do). He was so excited and energetic sitting at a table in the back with merch. Found out I was from CA and he lost his shit. Started breaking down what Headshots was and trying to tell me there was actually a scene here. We were the same age and he was so friendly and energetic. Then a couple years later, I saw him on HBO smashing that Blaze Battle. Didn't see Mikey again 'til i was visiting Doomtree family in like 2002 or 03' and he let us use his studio to record my first DT/HOF track "Euthanasia". Then when I moved here in 2005 i remember he was trying to put me on his shows. I did some "& Friends" shows. He was always super nice to me.

Last time I saw him, we were doing a freestyle show for Ghostband John in the basement of Library in Dinkytown about a month ago. We chatted outside for a second, about nothing really. But when we were going back and forth freestyling I felt like we were having a conversation we never got to have since we've known eachother. I'm glad for that. I keep thinking about all these things and more since [Sunday] when Stef (POS) woke me up and told me. Me and Mikey loved/did the same things and we were close in age and we lived in these amazing cities and scene. There's no tweet or status update to explain how we all feel -- friends, associates, acquaintances, fans. i just wanted everyone to know that I'm thinking about Mikey too..... damn. Didn't ever wanna have to do this but RIP Micheal "EYEDEA" Larsen.
Mike Mictlan



Have a memory or thought you'd like to share with us about Eyedea? Drop us an e-mail
We will continue to update this post throughout the week.


Previous City Pages interviews with Eyedea:




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