Category: Open Mike Eagle

Premiere: Open Mike Eagle's 'Extended Nightmares Getdown' EP

Open Mike Eagle

Pop and Hiss has made little secret of its appreciation of Open Mike Eagle's music. Over the last 18 months, the Los Angeles-based Project Blowedian has carved out a singular niche. He's analytical, sardonic, political, and he manages not to take himself seriously despite taking everything seriously. Plus, he can sing.

His latest EP, "Extended Nightmares Getdown: The Dark Blue Door," (presented by Open Enrollment Tour) finds him delving deeper into his interior psyche and memories. There are comic meditations based on Kurt Vonnegut novels, childhood dreams of patent leather Jordans, and images of drinking Blue Moon out of salt shakers. "Four Days" finds him and fellow Chicago transplant Serengeti spinning completely different stories of bathroom fiascoes at friends' homes -- narrative detail and humor worthy of S.J. Perelman. There are beats from underground rap heroes Busdriver and Blockhead and a song called "Wolfmother Wallpaper" that somehow is not about the mediocre Australian rock band.

Eagle has also written a note about the record, which you can read below -- where a download link to the free EP also awaits.

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Open Mike Eagle picks his five favorite current comedians

Open Mike Eagle picks his five favorite current comedians
If Open Mike Eagle isn't the funniest rapper currently working, he's close. His first full-length, "Unapologetic Art Rap" featured a skit from "30 Rock" writer and ex-"SNL" cast member Hannibal Burress, riffing on art rap battles and a lifetime supply of hummus (winner take all). His follow-up EP featured sardonic meditations on girls with Skrillex haircuts and Eastside night crawls gone terribly wrong. His latest record, "Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes,"  finds him prophesying a future where rappers need Viagra and bypasses.

The Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based Eagle is a hip-hop Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time but uniquely modern. He's shadowed by the "ever-present gay ghost of James Baldwin," while rapping and singing over Low End Theory electronic soul. To keeps things balanced, Eagle has a melodic baritone that softens the blistering humor. For both, he's been embraced by the local comedy world, playing at UCB and now Largo, where he opens Saturday night for the acerbic wit of Paul F. Tompkins.

In advance of the show, Pop & Hiss asked Eagle to name his five favorite working comedians (Tompkins excluded).

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SXSW 2011: Politicking with Shabazz Palaces and Open Mike Eagle

164696.CA.0318.sxsw.21.JM Shabazz Palaces have a backstory fit for Dostoevsky. You might remember frontman Ishmael Butler from his former gig as one of the three Digable Planets, the early '90s jazz rap titans who tutored the world on the essence of "Cool Like Dat." (For those with short memories, it was the "swag" of its day.)

Their unsung sophomore masterpiece, "Blowout Comb," found them subjected to the hip-hop equivalent of the execution of the Petrashevsky. Doomed for turning in a politically radical album when gangsta posturing ruled, EMI dropped them after the album failed to register commercially.

Big-boi-sxsw Butler endured a decade-plus sojourn in a metaphorical Siberia, recording a series of barely heard projects that were inevitably described (if mentioned at all) as "being by the guy who used to be in Digable Planets -- whatever happened to them?" The answer came last year when Shabazz Palaces emerged from the (relative) hip-hop hinterlands of Seattle. Music writers from the region began breathlessly hyping them as the most exciting local rap group in decades, and when Sir Mix-A-Lot is universally regarded as the gold standard, it wasn't much of a stretch.

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Pop & Hiss premiere: The Hellfyre Club's 'Prometheus' mixtape

Profixed When music historians look back on the hip-hop landscape of the last few years, one thing they’ll note is the resurgence of the crew formation.

Granted, the Internet’s new favorite sons Odd Future have already had a transformative effect on that perception. But the last two years have seen a gradual reemergence of the taxonomy that undergirded rap’s roots. From recent XXL cover boys Shady Records (now with 25% more battle rap) and L.A.’s own Black Hippy, groups of solo artists are commonly banding together to stand out in a diffuse environment.

Of course, throughout the last decade, crews from G-Unit to Dipset, Young Money and Brick Squad, have continued to fortify ideas about strength in numbers. But recently, it seems like a response to rap world over-saturation.

Graduates of Project Blowed, Hellfyre Club are the latest to rise through the crowded scene. Composed of artists signed to Nocando’s Alpha Pup-distributed imprint, rappers Open Mike Eagle, Intuition, Kail, Verbs and Sahtyre, and producers E Super, are Low End Theory staples and just the sort of MCs you’d expect the scene to breed: open-minded, ideology-averse, and with a wry sense of humor.

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Download: Open Mike Eagle's 'Art Rap After Party' EP


"Everybody's rapping, everybody's selling clothes, everybody's picture taking, shooting videos...everyday in the city of L.A. is everybody's birthday," goes the first hook on Open Mike Eagle's "Art Rap After Party EP" -- a record that solidifies the Chicago-born Angeleno-based rapper as arguably the finest (and funniest) chronicler of the seedy and mustache-marred L.A. underworld.

The follow-up to this year's stellar "Unapologetic Art Rap," Mike Eagle II rambles through the dregs of his new home's coked-out, jungle-juiced wastelands, getting wasted to stay sane. He sarcastically compliments a girl on her asymmetrical haircut, telling her that he hopes she stays ahead of the trends. Then he tells her that she dresses like the Macho Man, Randy Savage.

Those with one-dimensional interpretations might wrongly brand this hipster rap, but Mike is no hipster. He dresses more GQ than Vice and boasts a surliness that could get him tossed from Intelligentsia. Rather than stridently complain, he fulminates against his targets with a caustic wit and an ironic sense reminiscent of a less solipcistic Das Racist. Indeed, Eagle's tangents are even more searing and cogent. He attacks racists for assuming he's going to play 2Pac on a jukebox when he just wants to play "Rock the Casbah." He creates an absurd cosmology -- a 100 proof nightmare filled with wanna-be nabobs and those who have read too much Nabokov.

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