Tag Archives: Open Mike Eagle

#Bandcampgold-Albums I Bought from The Mello Music Group sale

#Bandcampgold-Albums I Bought from The Mello Music Group sale

by Dan-O

My favorite underground label in the world had a sale. I was notified that every album they had put out was available on Bandcamp for $4.99. I cracked my knuckles and started surfing, sampling, adding the interesting albums to my cart. I love rap music and I am cheap so I had to filter people out. Now the obvious artist to jump on would be Open Mike Eagle who has a string of critically released albums. I already bought his entire discography last year so I am all caught up on Mike. These are the albums I had either not heard or fully attended but once I locked in on them I fell hard for. Here is what I ended up purchasing.

Portraits by Chris Orrick

Portraits is truly dynamic in its level of poetic frustration. The cover photo makes it clear this is an MC who has been doing this for so long so hard that it has taken its toll, everything has.  The title track opens on thirty six seconds of Nolan The Ninjas beat which grooves with thick drums and horns feeling like a Jazzmatazz song.  This is the sonic world of Orrick who makes no apologies for what he likes to sound like. No trap experimentations necessary he needs Exile, Apollo Brown, Onra and a few others to weave a boom bap that leaves room for his intensity over top. Jealous of The Sun is a great example of how hard his pen goes. The first verse is an immense bummer about how the world is in terrible shape. The second is one of the most scathing indictments of Trump you’ll hear in rap and if that wasn’t enough the outro is a frighteningly apt analogy.

‘And there’s no one to tell us where to run
The day the people of earth got jealous of the sun
Looked up in the sky, filled the air with gas
Lit a match
Said “We are not to be outdone!’

 

If you go to Genius.com Chris gave a real good breakdown of what this song means. This is not a political album that is just the intensity he puts in any subject. Design Flaw is all about accepting how terrible you feel along with what is wrong with you and the L’Orange beat is propulsive while tailor made for Orrick. I will talk more about L’Orange later.  I love Portraits and I want you to love it but be prepared for the ride. Sometimes he’s talking about how much he loves his cat other times he’s blaming Obama for cleaning exhaust to the point where it’s harder to kill himself. The first lines in Escape Plan are “I went to sleep a fifth deep one night when I was twenty-three/Woke up sober, hungover, age of twenty-nine” he’s so honest and so poetically exhausted that anyone who has a connection to those feelings will find a connection to this album.

Stream or buy  Portraits below:

https://chrisorrickraps.bandcamp.com/album/portraits

No Question by Locksmith & Apollo Brown

Locksmith is so real I feel like I know the dude. I have been listening and reviewing him for at least five years (all hail The Green Box) and he is one of those rare dudes who leverages his intellectual strength to not just lash out at the system but GUT HIMSELF. Apollo Brown is an old soul NY hip hop minimalist and the resonant quiet of what he does just took Lock to a deeper place. While the album serves as a declaration that these two are not down with the new trends it lands a dizzying amount of profound statements.  Second verse first song (Advice For My Younger Self).

“And I tell you, never play it safe and never settle for second
Never hesitate, not even just for a second
Never second guess, if you say it then manifest it
But be careful who you say it to, some people will try to test it
If you think, use reflection, have sex then use protection
If you meet a girl and don’t, then make sure you have a connection
If she keeps it then you’re stuck with that woman, don’t wanna hear it
If she doesn’t then the guilt you’ll feel later will kill your spirit
Make sure you earn some money but money is not your god
Just a means to purchase things, put family before your job
Put God before your family and love before your lust
Protect yourself at all times, put truth before trust
Never fuss with ignorant folks, actions are much louder
You retreat to keep the peace, that does not make you a coward
If you focus on you, you can never go and unfelt
Not a lecture, just a lesson I give to my younger self”

If this was a Big Sean verse the internet would lose its damn mind. Truth is this is just what Locksmith gives you. He ends the industry tirade Litmus with “I’ve been prosecuted and profited from/ Now I just watch with an understanding and stand in my spot ’till it’s done.” My wife really likes this album, it’s not that my wife notes and parses all the meanings and double meanings in rapper verses but when she catches a line she wants to make sure it’s not dumb.  When Locksmith is spitting she can nod her head enjoy the twinkling piano keys on Slow Down and the buttery chorus or she can listen to Locksmith explain (what I have always said) that love is not a gamble but an investment. Whether she listens hard or doesn’t she knows that Locksmith is pounding on every second of No Question so that no one can accuse him of wasting an Apollo Brown beat. This one isn’t fighting for album of the year its right in the pocket of old friend you’ll wear out status.

Stream or buy No Question below:

https://apollobrown360.bandcamp.com/album/no-question

The Night Took Us In Like Family

By L’Orange & Jeremiah Jae

During this process I fell in love with L’Orange and his experimental disjointed and sometimes fractured take on classic hip hop sounds. His collaboration with Marlowe is great, his solo album The Ordinary Man goes hard.  Nothing tickles me like The Night Took Us In Like Family which is his collaboration with Jeremiah Jae. Jae is the perfect orator for a L’Orange beat he raps with a seething calm, the kind born from the anger bubbling when you realize that the world is against you. When the world turns on you some people fold (and that makes sense) others just sneer and think about how amusing it will be when they turn the tables. Jae goes bar after bar on Ice Obsidian which is only one minute and fifty two seconds but is so complete. He always finishes his thoughts no matter how much time L’Orange gives him no matter how oddly syncopated the beat is. Once the microphone is on he steps into things makes it his story.  Listen to how he starts Underworld “Sometimes I feel that the world is going under/ sky full of clouds all I hear is thunder./ Sometimes I feel like somebodies always watching/ waiting for the fall any chance they can hop in.”  One of the oldest tricks in spoken word was if you got on stage and the crowd is still chatty not paying attention put your face to the mic just start the piece don’t yell. Keep your voice low and conversational, whisper it and they will know to stop to listen. The Night Took Us In Like Family is chopped into bits equal parts song, intermission, and everything is perfectly cohesive. Every bit of violence described has a foundation laid around it so the Gangsta Rap aspect of it is never Rambo and always The Wire. With its seamlessness and dynamic shimmer bursting with casual confidence this one is my very favorite.

Stream or buy The Night Took Us In Like Family below:

https://lorange360.bandcamp.com/album/the-night-took-us-in-like-family

Here is the general link for Mello Music Group’s Bandcamp:

https://mellomusicgroup.bandcamp.com/

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Operation Doom Discography/Song of The Year-Phantoms featuring Kendra Morris & Open Mike Eagle produced by 7L

Operation Doom Discography/Song of The Year-Phantoms featuring Kendra Morris & Open Mike Eagle produced by 7L

by Dan-O

I couldn’t have been luckier than to wrap up the Doom discography run with Czarface Meets Metal Face.  The Czarface supergroup that started in 2013 was directly built upon the legacy of MF Doom. The skits the covers the framework was Doom and it united 7L, Esoteric & Inspectah Deck. Pulling Doom in isn’t as awkward as I worried it might be. I don’t expect the album to get a lot of critical love because it is dense and a first (even second listen) can leave you pretty bewildered. The production is also boom bap which most critics are sure is old school not an actual continuing genre within the greater hip hop sphere.

Czarface Meets Metal Face has some great Doom moments, the most Doom punchline in years is “Don’t deal with the Devil on a deep level/they see metal and sound off like a tea kettle” from Captain Crunch. Phantoms is hands down the best posse cut of 2018 thus far. It is a staggering display of lyricism by a room full of hall of famers.  MF sets the table with a chilling story about the price you pay cheating and betraying the people who love you. The phantom in his case is the angel and devil on each shoulder pulling him in opposite directions. While most MC’s use their pen to valorize themselves Doom lays it down awkward ” Wife wonder how you diss fam and disgrace your children/Dudes is wired like that, it’s still an all-case buildin’ ” I didn’t fully fathom how impressive his verse is until I read it.

The brilliance of 7L is flipping the beat for every new verse which can certainly be seen as a nod to Gangstarr’s I’m The Man but it feels very practical in this case. Open Mike Eagle & Inspectah Deck need different sonic backgrounds (Deck gets the best beat). All verses are blinding on this one: Mike Eagle sounds like the voice of a generation funny witty and razor sharp. Deck is a monster with odd references that make you rewind (Haley Joel Osment) and Esoteric might have my favorite performance of the song with his alliterative F sound verse that never comes off as forced.

Reviewers are forced to create a narrative around albums. So Czarface Meets Metal Face can be called out as old school but Doom and Deck were putting out new music back when boom bap was king, would you prefer they grab Sonny Digital and adjust their flow to the high hat? Ew. It can be called a victory lap from a bunch of really important artists past their peak but…what is so wrong with that? Isn’t it kind of cool to hear a bunch of great successful rappers get together and push themselves for the love of the actual art on an album that wasn’t made for charting? When listening tune your ears to the right connotation.

 

#Bandcampgold-Brick Body Kids Still Daydream by Open Mike Eagle

#Bandcampgold-Brick Body Kids Still Daydream by Open Mike Eagle

by Dan-O

I am so much more excited about BBKSD than my circle. Everyone likes it. People at this point have heard of Open Mike Eagle due to the breakout success of 2014’s Dark Comedy (and 2016’s huge improvement Hella Personal Film Festival). He is officially on the bubble of everyone who follows music and BBKSD shows yet another improvement. That is a good enough take but not from my angle.  If you follow the incredible X-Men references in the opening track (Legendary Iron Hood https://genius.com/Open-mike-eagle-legendary-iron-hood-lyrics ). The song is a perfect example of Mike pushing everything to the hilt. He’s always had great hooks and this time they are prettier, better sung, catchier (see Hymnal) the beats are full of strange sounds coming together over his buttery flow. His lyrics take comic imagery and push it 38 degrees to the left so that they become intensely meaningful.

On Happy Wasteland Day he is slick and smooth weaving zombie imagery and the connotation of dystopia into his everyday life “When the king is a garbage person/I might wanna lay down and die/Power down on my darkest urges/Keep my personal crown up high.”  As the song goes on his tone gets more and more urgent as the terror of everyday violence punctures the force field. The last verse his voice is post mortem, dead monotone and fading.  It is as much an emotional journey as Velvet Underground’s Heroin.

If you’re a strict rap guy who needs BARS just press play on Brick Body Complex which is a sensational set fire to the BS hook with dizzying skill from his pen in the verses “Chi Town in my building code/Stood here for ten million snows/wind chill is all in my bones/ Indivisible in divisible kids and criminals young and old/No radiator my dungeon cold.” That song sets my sensory on overload and it isn’t even my favorite.

I would change nothing on BBKSD but boy do I come back specifically to 95 Radios. Toy Light and Has-Lo created a beat that chimes a spotlight on the verses (Has-Lo destroys verse 1). Mike’s second verse teases fun growing up references but can’t run away from the hard thoughtful personal truth “I miss my old hood/ miss my homies/is lonely/ The radio host is like they know me.”  The pain isn’t just in the verse it’s in the delivery, the chorus drips with the visual image of a kid closing his eyes and trying to hear a rap song so he doesn’t have to think so damn much.

When I was in school (trying to become a better writer) teachers routinely told me to ignore what I did well and focus on improving my faults. As a natural antagonist the first thing I did was push even harder on my strengths leaving the rest for later. Sometimes if I pushed hard enough I could accomplish something really surprising and that was the best feeling. Brick Body Kids Still Daydream gives me that feeling for Mike. No one gets to show him his lane.

Bandcamp link below:

https://openmikeeagle360.bandcamp.com/album/brick-body-kids-still-daydream

#Bandcampgold review-Hella Personal Film Festival by Open Mike Eagle & Paul White

#Bandcampgold review-Hella Personal Film Festival  by Open Mike Eagle & Paul White

by Dan-O

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:

https://openmikeeagle360.bandcamp.com/album/hella-personal-film-festival

 

Song of The Year-Very Much Money (Ice King Dream) by Open Mike Eagle produced by Ultra Combo

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Song of The Year-Very Much Money (Ice King Dream) by Open Mike Eagle produced by Ultra Combo

by Dan-O

You can move mountains you can be the most interesting man in the world but if you’re broke it doesn’t really matter. That’s how it feels anyway, and this song articulates that feeling in a transcendent way. It comes off of Open Mike Eagle’s new album Dark Comedy which is full of glum circumstances, acute observation and absurdity in equal parts. This is certainly not the only great song from it as Qualifiers demands playlist addition and Doug Stamper with Hannibal Buress as guest star is proudly pleasurable.

This is one of the best songs this year because it resonates beyond its parts. Ultra Combo gives the song an uncanny hypnotic quality increased exponentially by Eagle’s tender tones. Dark Comedy is the only title Eagle could give the collection this comes out of. He sings earnestly that his friends “Some of them talk to the animals none of it matters when N’s was hungry.” The hilarious image of the sculptors who speak Portuguese and talk to the animals is bound up in the tangled tragic web of the deadly 0 balance our checking accounts always feel so close to touching.

The swirling can’t take your eyes off it condition of the beat mixed with the delicate and damn near heartfelt delivery of the melody make this something that feels like the unforgiving truth and as funny as it is it feels dead ass serious. Other times you catch the Prometheus line just right and shake your head and smile.

Stream the song below:

http://mellomusicgroup.bandcamp.com/track/very-much-money-ice-king-dream