As we’ve come to expect with Open Mike Eagle, 4NML HSPTL is a swooping ride along Space-Mountain-esque color waves, narrated by Professor Eagle’s humble mumble. You ever see that scene in one of those Star Trek movies when they put that bug in the dude’s space helmet and goes in his ear and eats his brain? Mike’s kinda like that. He’ll never overwhelm you with layers of chanted choruses or overbearing hooks. He’s more Deltron 3030 asking if he got the part. He will eat your brain.
More than anything, I’m impressed with the amount of music Open Mike Eagle’s released since Art Rap Party. It’s been three albums now, each serving to establish some new facet of Eagle’s mission. This time, 4NML HSPTL is a full-fledged Fake Four, Inc. release, and I get the feeling Open Mike Eagle is serving up his main course. “Wherever I sit today – I’m a make a mother Fuckin throne!”
Blast off! Open Mike’s flow is so smooth, like bread slathered in Nutella. As with most Fake Four artists, melody seems to play more of a central role in 4NML HSPTL’s songs’ arrangements. There's nothing revolutionary about that description. What is revolutionary is the coup that Ceschi and Inc. are pulling on underground music. I swear I feel like we might be looking back at this time in hip hop as the birth of something similar to when the Minutemen and the Descendents and Black Flag and Circle Jerks all took over hardcore. There’s way less thrash than back then but every artist seems to be expected to contribute. What you have is a stable of unique, blue collar, quality artists who are advancing the genre unlike almost anyone.
Mike’s singing is a lot like his rapping: low and minimal. This is most evident on “DanceBill”. There are quality guest spots from fellow weirdos and baby-assed rappers, Serengeti, Has-Lo, and Nocando. And is that Kimya Dawson I hear on “One Day”? I don’t know if I’m getting used to him or if this release is more accessible. Mike seems more confident and comfortable in his rap skin. I thought for a minute like he might have upgraded his suit, swagged it out or what not. But it’s not that. It’s like he’s finally feeling out all the buttons his spaceship has had all along, he just hadn’t gotten around to pushing all of ‘em. Push ‘em dude!
Open Mike Eagle says that shit you only wish you had. “New world order – we’re all one finally!” shit, I fucking hate you! I end up in discussions about how rappers start out talking about the shit they grew up with, the blights of urban living, the deficiencies of a social infrastructure, the violence, the drugs. And when they “make it,” it always seems like they have nothing to talk about anymore, thus the money and houses and bitches and cars and shit right? Mike may or may not have grown up with these things. But by grinding for so long, having paid dues ten fold, Open Mike Eagle has a whole different take on shit. He’s older, seasoned. He’s a father. Might be a husband. He’s had a career as something other than a fucking rap hustler. That maturity lends itself to being more casual, laid back, unhurried. Mike’ll describe the smell after it rains. He says twice as much with half the words. In rapper years, he’s old as Fuck and why he’s a Syffal fave.
The production he chooses is less like sledgehammers and more like eclectic shadows, less like knuckleheads and more like electric ninjas. Walks a thin line between bitcrusher crunchy and so smooth it makes me hate you. You get grinding bass with overlaid bleeps and blips. I read somewhere they’re calling it glitch-hop. I think it sounds more like some toy space shuttle shit. That may sounds like a diss, but I fucking loved that toy space shuttle, dick!
Well, it looks like “Swim Team’s walk-on” has parlayed his time on the field into a full scholarship and a spot in the starting line-up. And I jock him for it. Dude, is the rap game’s Joe Panos. He’s beyond a rapper at this point. But at the same time he knows where he came from, remembers the shows for five of us at the Airliner, understands what it took to build from backpacker to art rapper. He seems more confident in that than ever. With Fake Four the production is better than ever and his beat selection doesn’t seem to be getting any less weird. 4NML HSPTL release will solidify Open Mike Eagle as an artist of note in the music industry, if he hasn’t already been noted. The future is as wide-open as Joel’s vagina. (I couldn’t help myself!)
Pre-order 4NML HSPTL HERE