Larsen, Michael "Eyedea" (1981 - 2010)

Image of Michael "Eyedea" Larsen from the "Smile" music video
Heavy Blog is Heavy
Michael "Eyedea" Larsen was born on November 9, 1981, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to seventeen-year-old Kathy Averill. Soon after his birth, they relocated to West Saint Paul, Minnesota, returning to her hometown. Against this backdrop, Eyedea honed his extraordinary talents, evolving into a profoundly gifted battle rapper, versatile hip-hop artist, musician, and producer.

From a young age, Eyedea's potential was evident. He began writing poems in kindergarten, displaying poetic prowess and an early penchant for performing. At the tender age of six, he and his friends formed a fictitious band, complete with makeshift wooden instruments, and entertained friends and family.

As he grew from childhood into adolescence, Larsen's non-conformist sensibilities often put him at odds with authority figures. He was fiercely independent and willing to fight for what he thought was right. This independent spirit went on to fuel his unique brand of artistry.

Remarkable achievements marked Larsen's foray into the world of hip-hop. As a teenager, he gained recognition by winning prestigious freestyle rap battles, including the 1999 Scribble Jam, a feat he accomplished at just seventeen years old. Despite lucrative record deal offers, including one with P. Diddy and Bad Boy Records, he boldly chose to release his music independently through Rhymesayers Entertainment.

In 2001, Eyedea & Abilities unveiled their debut album, "First Born," a project that showcased Larsen's philosophical and introspective lyrical style. This was followed by their second album, "E&A," in 2004, where Larsen's growth as an artist showed a more polished and focused direction.

He wrote his first album when he was just sixteen years old. Also, much of the material for his later effort, "The Many Faces of Oliver Hart," was written before his high school graduation.

Larsen's approach to music was always boundary-pushing, symbolic of his commitment to impact people regardless of the medium he used. He even contemplated delving into stand-up comedy to reach a broader audience beyond his music.

In 2006, Eyedea temporarily stepped away from the underground hip-hop scene to explore various side projects. These included ventures into the world of punk rock with the band Carbon Carousel and an improvisational jazz rap with the ensemble Face Candy. These creative efforts sharply divided his fanbase, and this period in Larsen's life was marked by personal struggles as he grappled with depression and anxiety.

Eyedea & Abilities reunited two years later to create their album "By the Throat." This critically acclaimed project marked the high point of their collaborative efforts. It was the apex of Larsen's years of experimentation, with him infusing his side projects' influences into the duo's signature sound. Unfortunately, "By the Throat" would be their final album together.

On October 16, 2010, at age twenty-eight, Larsen was discovered lifeless in his Saint Paul apartment, the victim of an accidental drug overdose. Struggling with insomnia and depression, he'd combined prescription medications with alcohol in an attempt to sleep. This unfortunate toxic mixture likely led to his suffocation.

In response to misconceptions surrounding his death, Eyedea's mother clarified that her son was not a habitual drug user or addict. Instead, a confluence of factors, including an overdose of prescription drugs, contributed to the tragic incident, which she described as an isolated and accidental occurrence.

The local music scene was devastated by his loss but quickly banded together to celebrate everything Larsen was: a brilliant, intuitive, personable person, wonderful friend, and massively talented artist.

On November 9, 2010, on what would have been Eyedea's twenty-ninth birthday, they celebrated his life in First Avenue's Mainroom. A capacity-filled crowd came out to honor Eyedea and listen to performances from his friends — a veritable who's who of Twin Cities underground hip-hop and beyond.

Commemorative tributes for Larsen, including music events held in his honor, have continued over the years. Multiple memorials have been dedicated to his memory, including a park bench in West Saint Paul's Cherokee Park on October 16, 2011, and a mural on the side of his grandparent's Como Avenue auto repair shop in October 2018.

His legacy endures as a testament to his profound impact not only on the world of underground hip-hop but music in general. His journey from gifted child poet, to battle rapper, to genre-bending artist serves as a reminder of the metamorphic power of artistic expression. Larsen's memory lives on through the music and artistry he shared with everyone.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0


  • Gottfried, Mara. "Eyedea's Family Responds to Cause of Death." Twin Cities. Last modified November 12, 2015, Link
  • Gottfried, Mara. "St. Paul Rapper Eyedea's Death Ruled Accidental Drug Overdose." Twin Cities. Last modified November 12, 2015, Link
  • "Interview: Eyedea's Mother Kathy Averill (Mother of Micheal Larsen / Eyedea)." YouTube. Last modified June 27, 2012, Link
  • Mullen, Mike. "The Underground Poet of St. Paul: A Tragedy in Seven Acts." The Minnesota Daily. Last modified December 2, 2010, Link
  • "Photo + Video from the Dedication Ceremony in Cherokee Park." The Official Website of Michael "Eyedea" Larsen. Last modified October 19, 2011, Link
  • Pressley, Roe. "The many faces of Micheal Larsen: An interview with Eyedea." Twin Cities Daily Planet. Last modified January 26, 2009, Link
  • Staff, X. "Eyedea memorial announced, slug, Murs speak on deceased MC's legacy - XXL." XXL Mag. Last modified October 22, 2010, Link

Share and Save