Back on SportsMusicLife I used to do what I called a “Way Too Late Album Review” where I reviewed an album…..way too late. It was usually because I don’t like putting out reviews right after an album drops, I like to give it time….that doesn’t really often get clicks though and ends up being an exercise of how much I can write before I get bored.
Not this time.
I mean, I’m late on the album review, but this is a damn good album, and it fits under our “Artists You Should Know” category. Because you owe it to yourself to know who Open Mike Eagle is, if you like to step out a little bit when it comes to rap.
Before we go any further, if you REALLY want to know what you’re about to get into, just hear this verse out and determine if you want to go any further…
Mike is different, he’s smart, but self-depreciating and always aware of his shortcomings as a human being and an artist. He raps frequently about his anxieties (“Ziggy Starfish”) and often references his life as a typical person: changing his kids diapers, pulling up to his shows in a Ford Focus, etc. That’s what I like about him, he’s relate-able but not so relate-able that he’s boring. He spends a lot of time rambling and projecting ideas, personal thoughts and his views on the world. He doesn’t always connect them at the end, yet you don’t feel disappointed in the lack of closure, you just wait for the next song.
That’s what ultimately makes “Hella Personal Film Festival” so good. Open Mike Eagle collaborates with British producer Paul White for a composition that gets, well, real personal. The album ranges from acceptance to relief to humor to happiness and back around again, creating an anthology of various stories so to speak, but they all have the same feel.
Paul White deserves as much credit for the vibe of the album. After Mike rapped over the initial beat, White took it and built upon it based on whatever product he was given. It’s a formula that worked perfectly and really allows the album to blend the way it needs to.
The album really peaks in the beginning from the minute you play “Admitting the Endorphin Addiction” where Mike raps about basically running around in circles and being encompassed in depression but it’s all over an uptempo beat, so it’s okay. “I Went Outside Today” is full of Mike’s witty one-liners about Lena Dunham, Hulk Hogan and Rick Martel.
G’on ‘head with my Dwayne Wayne looking ass
I want a stupid mic stand carved from a wooden staff
I’m tryna relive days that I couldn’t grab
“Dang Is Invincible” is a little rough when it starts out, but it’s honestly one of the most unique/fun pieces on the project. It’s basically a rap about feeling invincible because everything goes right, from waking up without a hangover after a night out, to having a fully charged phone even after being blacked out drunk to shooting your trash across the room and it landing in the trash can with ease. It transitions seamlessly into “Check to Check” which is along the more lighthearted side of the album, until his phone speaks…
But one of my favorite songs on the album is “The Curse of Hypervigilance”, there’s really not much I can say about other than the fact that it’s even better when you tie the subtitle of the song into each verse. The second favorite is “Insecurity Pt 2” which took me awhile to get the context before I realized it was about the fears of a couple having a baby. The hook in itself is catchy enough to reel you in:
Got used to being a pair
That outside world is scary though
The more, the merrier, the Moor, the marry her
All that is moot though, I mean, why should you care to obtain this album? Because it’s fun and that’s what music is supposed to be. I’m of the belief that rap needs artists who don’t take their persona so seriously and Mike is the embodiment of that. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a rapper, the guy can spit, he’s creative as hell, but he never does braggadocios rap, because he doesn’t have to. He’s the guy who’s there for the fun because he accepted long ago that he might not get rich off of this. I just love that rap can exist in this sort of context, because that’s what it needs, balance. It’s on Spotify, take 45 minutes while you’re at work today and stream it.Take off shuffle and let it play straight through, you’ll get a better appreciation for the composition. It’s worth it.
Tracks to check out:
“Curse of Hypervigilance”
“Insecurity Pt 2”
“Leave People Alone”
Tracks you might like:
“Dang Is Invincible”
“Check to Check”