Open Mike Eagle chronicles impactful, emotional tale

New album one of the most impressive hip-hop pieces of the year

ae-OpenMikeEagle-CourtesyMelloMusicGroup

Eagle is known for his impressive flow and vocabulary as well as his tactical approach to the genre of hip-hop. 

Courtesy Mello Music Group | Cavalier Daily

After already proving himself as one of the most innovative and daring hip-hop artists of the last few years through a series of impressive LPs and EPs, it is no surprise Open Mike Eagle has continued the trend of putting out excellent music with his latest album “Brick Body Kids Still Daydream.” Eagle, a 36 year-old originally from the south side of Chicago, is one of the few artists who now classifies himself as an “art rapper.” 

In an interview with the L.A. Weekly early in his career, Eagle defined art rap as rap music that is “not disposable.”

“The industry today creates products built for being thrown away,” Eagle said in the interview. “There's no sustenance in it. I wanted to create a space for myself that was genuinely me.“

So does this introduction of a new genre give reason to say Eagle is the up and coming “hip hop revivalist?” He is known for his impressive flow and vocabulary as well as his tactical approach to the genre. 

The album’s closer, “My Auntie’s Building,” shows he is politically aware. Lines like “They say America fights fair / But they won't demolish your timeshare” are not only incredibly impressive showings of his lyricism, but also illustrate Eagle’s opinions on the existing systematic prejudice and discrimination against people of color and in poor communities. The expensive apartments, condos and nice neighborhoods remain unaffected when it’s time to build new buildings — it’s the projects and poor demographical locations that get hit.

Prior to the album’s release date, Eagle posted three diverse tracks with different beats and rap styles, all providing insight for what was in store for the album. “95 Radios” has a painfully nostalgic feel as it tells the humorous yet sad story of Eagle and friends being unable to listen to the radio. In this track, Eagle shows his obscure lyricism and wittiness with lines like “And we wrapped both hands in tinfoil / Pointed at the window frame / Tryna find a radio.” 

Some songs are more fun than others — the album tells a story filled with political and social injustice in which Eagle has a firsthand perspective. It chronicles a project on the south side of Chicago called the Robert Taylor Homes, which were demolished entirely 10 years ago and forced families living there for generations to exit their homes. The demolition created tension and indifference about the neighborhood. Perhaps it isn’t the actual story Eagle presents which is so intriguing, but his wordplay and production perfectly mesh together to provide a soothing and enjoyable listen. 

The album makes it feel as though you’re right there with Eagle, sitting on a street in the neighborhood. The production is excellently done by a variety of Mello Music Group mixers and helps assert this vibe.

“Brick Body Kids Still Daydream” is such an impressive LP because of Eagle’s lyrical capacity. The lines are full of insecurities, obscure references and tons of personality. Eagle has always given a “sarcastic” feel to his music, with lyrics full of insecurities and odd references, but something about his 2017 release feels even more serious than any of his other projects. 

Compared to other great works released this year, it’s a more mature version of Tyler the Creator’s “Flower Boy,” it’s equally politically savvy as Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” and it’s as groundbreaking as either of Brockhampton’s “Saturation” projects. 

The future of hip-hop needs artists like Eagle to keep the genre from imploding. Many current big names in hip-hop have found success through catchy samples with lackluster wordplay and lyricism — but “Brick Body” shows hope and inspiration for artists to push themselves to improve on their sound and invoke more emotion in their music. 

With a completely different attitude and mindset from other recent releases, “Brick Body Kids Still Daydream” is one of 2017’s strongest hip-hop projects, leaving the listener with both an emotionally intense story and political awareness.

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