Do you want to watch a rap documentary where you honestly say to yourself: “I really like this guy?” If so I recommend, The World Has No Eyedea, a film about Michael “Eyedea” Larson, a Minneapolis rap icon who was widely known for his work with Rhymesayers Entertainment from 1999-2010. The World Has No Eyedea with be shown at the Gateway Film Center April 8th, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $10.50
“Eyedea” Larsen passed away October 16, 2010 after not surviving an accidental overdose in Minnesota. Eyedea’s death left a void in the hearts of his friends and fans.
I spoke to “The World Has No Eyedea” documentarian Brandon Crowson on the phone in anticipation of the film’s screening at the Gateway Film Center, April 8th. The movie shows Mikey’s development from a b-boying, working class Minnesota kid, to a world renown battle rapper, who eventually became compelled to champion individuality, soul-searching and experimentation.
So what is the world missing from Eyedea’s passing?
“What I admire so much about Eyedea is and why I put him heads and shoulders above everyone else is he was actively making you think about human nature,” said Brandon.
The filmmaker described his first exposure to Eyedea: “I was a huge fan of his work. I didn’t actually know Michael personally. I’m the kind of a fan that had most of his catalog memorized verbatim.”
This was the thing with the development of the Rhymesayer movement. They connected with fans through performance, and honest energy that resonated. Obviously, for Ohioans this was transmitted through Eyedea’s music and his Columbus friends Blueprint, Illogic and PRZM. (PRZM makes a cameo.)
Brandon came upon his direct exposure with Eyedea’s essence after befriending Eyedea’s mother Kathy Averill who was roommates with a woman who worked for Crowson’s video company.
Brandon said, “Kathy and I kinda developed a friendship. She would let me use the studio that Eyedea recorded at.”
Brandon inquired about making a documentary about Averill’s iconic son. Like many people before, Brandon was rejected. A few years later, Kathy Averill asked Brandon if he would transfer VHS’s footage to digital format. Brandon obliged at no charge.
“We were sitting down looking at the footage together,” he explained. This is when he convinced Eyedea’s mom to let him make this film: “Well, you know, if you just let me interview the right 12 people, and take the time to edit it down well, I could make this a film that could go places and do well.”
Brandon was in the midst another project. He has already won awards for a short film. However this was a project he cared for immensely. “She agreed.”
Crowson and Kathy crowd-funded $21, 206 to make the film in 2015. The majority of the performance footage was recorded within dimly lit underground dwellings.
“It was standard dat footage filmed in dark rooms so the quality wasn’t all that amazing,” he said. Some of the footage had been previously released by Eyedea’s mother compiled under the name “Then & Now.”
“I just let that dictate the aesthetic of the film Instead of fighting against it.” Brandon interspersed this live footage, Eyedea interviews and interviews with Kathy Averill, Eyedea’s mentor Slug, deejay/producer Abilities, Carnage, Felipe from Los Nativos and various friends with facial animation.
He utilized crazy talk animator, after-Effects, 3D perspective on certain photos, and edited everything in the final cut. The result is a mixture of endearing performance footage, candid interviews sequenced with segments that give you the feel of reading a shoplifted illustrated Hunter S. Thompson book at the Blue Danube.
Obviously Crowson couldn’t tell the Eyedea story without talking to his Rhymesayer’s Crew. Brandon said of Rhymesayers involvement: “They’ve been crazy helpful.” (He also uses the word pantheon within every sentence that contains the name Rhymesayers to signify his high esteem for the label.)
Because he was the new guy in this conversation, Crowson had to prove he could handle the project. “They didn’t know who I was at first.”
The filmed opened in Denver to sold-out crowds, and connected with the audience who were reared on the humor and tenderheartedness of Eyedea.
Once Brandon proved to Rhymesayers he wasn’t going to botch their friend’s legacy they opened their wisdom, and communication channels to “The World Has No Eyedea.”
“You have to earn your stripes. They got a lot more helpful in regards to promoting the film after we started winning awards at film festivals. Selling-out screenings. Stuff like that. That’s when they were like ‘You didn’t screw it up. Congratulations for not screwing up the Eyedea documentary.’’