#Bandcampgold review-Hella Personal Film Festival by Open Mike Eagle & Paul White
Dark Comedy put Open Mike Eagle on the map for a lot of listeners. While I still listen and enjoy that album it feels like a battle of Dark v. Comedy and in that sense Dark wins. By the time you hit track 8 Idaho anything you could possibly laugh at is crushingly sad; the kind of album that leaves you wanting to send the artist a get well card.
My constructed narrative is that Eagle sinks into the beats if they are muted. His agile humor and exuberance get swallowed by depression and anxiety; he feels the mood of the beat more than most. Enter Paul White; the UK producer who did valuable work on the near-classic Danny Brown album Old. From the first song of their collaborative album Hella Personal Film Festival you feel the difference in energy. Admitting The Endorphin Addiction really moves and feels important, Eagle is engaging and funny, lacing buttery sung vocals. His collaboration with Aesop Rock is real rap (I Went Outside Today) where he spits with impressive skills as well as hilarious moments “Rick Martel’s perfume can blind you HOGAN!” I love love love that Eagle was that focused because he knew Aesop was going to slay his verse. He brought his best pure rapping out of straight up hip hop instincts and respect.
Eagle is sneaky good at rapping and funny in ways you might not catch until a few seconds after the line but man he has a talent with hooks. Dang Is Invincible has a hook that won’t leave my head. His music is carefully linked to the anxiety of civilized living, even on Dang Is Invincible while enjoying the chorus you’ll hear verses with statements like “…feel good without being a narcissist did the whole tour didn’t get a parking ticket, looked in my heart and there wasn’t no darkness in it.”
White is fantastic dishing straight up old school hip hop jams like Check To Check and the jazzier whistle based The Curse of Hypervigilance. When the intelligence of the two comes together you get a straight up masterpiece in Smiling (Quirky Race Doc). The song is a real discussion about how people are afraid to smile at black men. It’s sharp and funny “I don’t want you, your purse or your pocket book; them dumb yoga pants boots of fur with the octopus. I’m not tryin’ to polish your toes, take your wallet or phone or follow you home.” The song also is done with a lot of genuine emotion, even his joking is poignant. The problem he’s addressing is real as thunderstorms. My two year old waves at strangers, all strangers (I know, what are you gonna do?) and my favorite is when he waves at a black man because they always light up like no one else. The promise of a little white kid possibly being raised not to fear them is in the sweet smile and wave they return to him. The song is a perfect commentary on that small but important interaction, Smiling is bold and funny but it also has a great hook that incorporates ghost farts.
Every song means something and ends up somewhere real. I love when Eagle is energetically wiping out the line between comedy and seriousness, between novelty rap and musicianship. Paul White found the right elements to get the right reaction (example: the piano in Insecurity P.II) and got the best out of him. Long live the Hella Personal Film Festival.
Stream or purchase(I did!) Hella Personal Film Festival below: