Open Mike Eagle introduced himself on his 2014 album Dark Comedy as being ‘bad at sarcasm’ so he ‘works in absurdity.’ And so I was introduced to the lyrically witty, obscure-referencing and intelligent rapper called Open Mike Eagle. With colourful production, smooth vocal deliveries and eclectic flows, Michael Eagle has become one of the more enigmatic artists to emerge out of the Los Angeles hip-hop and beat scene in the last couple of years.
On Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, Open Mike Eagle (originally from Chicago, Illinois), tackles the effect on how the destruction of the Robert Taylor Homes, a housing project in the South side of Chicago in 2007, had on the population of young black men living there. A dark, political record as usual for Mike Eagle, with colourful production from Exile, DJ Nobody, Andrew Broder, Kenny Segal, Illingsworth, Caleb Stone, Lo-Phi, Elos, Has-Lo and Toylight. Mixed and mastered by the legend Daddy Kev. ‘Happy Wasteland Day’ is one of the centre-pieces to this introspective project, he raps the following:
‘Everythings thats been dead and buried
Ain’t supposed to come back alive
Now we all in a zombie movie
Only weapon is common sense
Zombie sheriffs is tryna to lynch us
Guess I’ll call up my congressmen
Pick a day for a celebration
Make a circle on halloween
Party under your pile of garbage
Can’t see out then just follow me’
The devastating imagery of gentrification and racial segregation is prevalent throughout this project, but the concept of a struggling African American trying to deal with changes in his neighbourhood is vivid and powerful. Open Mike Eagle’s descriptive depiction of the damages of gentrification in Chicago is devastatingly real, as he explores in another highlight ‘Brick Body Complex’:
‘They took us to the shelters, basement, hallways
Early morning Sunday, midnight, all day
Do what the adults say, don’t engage in horseplay
People speak in tongues
Momma’s in the basement smokin’ something
We grew up in hazes, ride checks, dungeons
Graduation lunches, tried to make us something
See what we’d become’
The strong image of breaking a family through gentrification but never breaking the black spirit is something which needs to be shared and spoken about openly as its significance and relevance in today’s climate with in the United States of America is stronger than ever before. This is why this album comes at a good and significant time.
The concept of this album is excellently executed, and Open Mike Eagle’s delivery on lush production is ever so refreshing to hear in an age where monotony in hip-hop is rewarded. An excellent album worth all the attention it can get.
Listen to Open Mike Eagle’s Brick Body Kids Still Daydream below and make sure you support this album any way you can if you enjoy it.