Open Mike Eagle is a professional Rap-Singer out of Los Angeles. He is a former Project Blowdian and a current member of The Hellfyre Club collective and Mellow Music Group. His most recent album is called Dark Comedy. I find it to be a very fitting title.
I have two parts to this review: The short version and the long version. The short version will tell you if you should buy the album, and the long version will tell you why.
The Short Version: It’s a good album. I liked it a lot. I think OME is a very unique and talented artist who deserves why more notoriety than he gets. Buy this album.
The Long Version: I want to note that when it comes to Open Mike Eagle, I have some biases. I have briefly met him at a show and had a very good experience—he shook my hand during the show because he appreciated my energy, and when I went up to him after the show he was talking to me before I was talking to him; and he said he liked my A Christmas Story shirt. I also am a fan of other artists with whom he associates. Because of this, I am inclined to like the things that he makes based purely on the notion that it is him making those things. With that said, I do believe that this album is perhaps his strongest yet and my bias should not color that.
Dark Comedy starts out strong with a rather ominous song, “Dark Comedy Morning Show” that sort of lets us into the mind of Open Mike Eagle with lines such as: “I flew off the handle and boy are my arms tired”; and, “For those who haven’t heard of me, I’m bad at sarcasm so I work in absurdities.” These lines I think are indicative of the mood of this album. There is a boiling rage somewhere in Open Mike Eagle, but he doesn’t want us to know. Songs like “Informations” and “Doug Stamper” bubble with an aggressive beat and at times manic sounding delivery. Yet there are spots of light that shine in this album. “Doug Stamper” has a line that is a hilarious Seinfeld reference. The song ends with featured rapper Hannibal Buress retracting his statement that the Honda Civic, among others, is a girls car; by stating that if that’s all you can afford you shouldn’t feel bad about buying one.
That’s the joy of Mike Eagle I think, that he is able to keep a sense of humor even though he sees a lot of things that bother him in the world. Songs like “Informations” talk about how uncomfortable he is with the spread of technology, and other songs echo the sentiment, but at the same time he is quick to remind us that he can’t live without his cell phone. This album is not conscious rap, but self-conscious rap. It is music made by a person who loves rap and rap culture but wishes it would be better. Not better in a complaining about everyone selling out sort of way, but better in a respecting women and black culture sort of way. In one song he even declares himself president of the rappers that doesn’t condone date rape.
But in that self-consciousness is an honesty that isn’t found in a lot of other rappers. The song “Idaho” is about him drunk driving for not the first time. It’s not a triumphant song about beating the cops home, or living dangerously and surviving, it is not even really a warning against it. It is just a collection of thoughts while his is driving down some Cormac McCarthy highway at night after imbibing too many substances that hinder one’s ability to operate heavy machinery. His voice that seems to always hang in the purgatory between singing and rapping lilts up and down like a tiny boat on a choppy lake. When I saw the song live I actually felt like I might fall over, I felt like the song might have been ten minutes long. I almost didn’t want it to end. There is also the song “Very Much Money (Ice King Dream)” is an appreciation of the people he has surrounding him, and a look at how their wealth to talent ratio is not where it should be. But the song doesn’t complain, it simply states. His friends are super heroes, none of them have very much money though.
As far as the production goes, there is a lot that could be said about it, but I will keep that part short. Open Mike Eagle (and indeed all of his Hellfyre Club associates) is a master at beat selection. There are really no beats on this album that feel out of place or under utilized.
If there are any songs on this album I don’t enjoy, it is because they aren’t as immediately catchy as the others. “Dark Comedy Morning Show”, “Qualifiers”, “Very Much Money”, and “Thirsty Ego Raps” all have choruses that are easy to learn and fun to sing, so when songs such as “Jon Lovitz”, or “Sadface Penance Raps” come on, they can make the listener feel lost. This isn’t to say that Eagle should stick to a verse chorus verse chorus formula, this might just be more an issue of track list order.
All in all, this is a good album, it’s good for people who just love rap, and it’s good for people who want something different. Open Mike Eagle quietly does his thing on this album. This isn’t to say that it’s meek or mild by any means, but it is absent of some of the hyperbole and excess that can be associated with the genre. It doesn’t condemn other rap, and it doesn’t distance itself from it. It honestly does it’s thing whilst peacefully allowing everything else to exist. That’s what makes it so important, that fact that it doesn’t try to convince you that it is.