Open Mike Eagle - ”Qualifiers (Live from the Laundromat)”
It takes a special kind of rapper (and person) to make music that revolves so heavily around intelligence and irony without completely alienating his listeners. Open Mike Eagle’s secret? Even when he’s throwing around obscure literature references or crafting two-minute-long figurative satirical narratives or wryly criticizing modern reliance on technology, Open Mike never loses track of himself. Most of his criticisms come tied with a high-profile asterisk: Open Mike Eagle is just as tied to his surroundings and haunted by his demons as each of us, and that grounds his music and casts it in a subtly but crucially different light. These aren’t the superior chastisements of a rapper who knows better than us; Open Mike is just as mired in 21st century faults as each of us are.
Equally capable of carrying his songs by way of rapping and by singing (and of making us laugh and cry), “blending genres” doesn’t give Open Mike Eagle enough credit for what he’s done with Dark Comedy. He’s got a unique knack for phrasing age-old rallying mantras in ways that are both funny and undeniable in their clarity (“Nah, I’m in the hood hearing sirens/And the beat tried to make me feel good but it’s lying” — “Sadface Penance Raps”): as a matter of fact, run down the album’s tracklist for a good sense of Dark Comedy’s unique brand of honesty and irony: “Thirsty Ego Raps” and “Golden Age Raps” slide into “Very Much Money (Ice King Dream)” and the Hannibal Burress-featuring “Doug Stamper (Advice Raps),” while “A History of Modern Dance” makes an appearance later on.Making fun of people without alienating them is a difficult task, and one that Eagle takes to with aplomb.
It says it all, really, that one of the album’s most memorable tracks is about Open Mike being invited to a dream gig on the moon — a show that he has to withdraw from because, well, it’s his wedding anniversary (“Jon Lovitz (Fantasy Booking Yarn)”). That type of wry “well, what can ya do” juxtaposition is what makes Open Mike’s music so powerful; reality is always there to be grappled with, and he’s got no patience for anyone unwilling to confront its ugliness or place their perceptions in question. He might put it best himself on “Qualifiers”: “Fuck you if you’re a white man that assumes I speak for black folk/Fuck you if you’re a white man who thinks I can’t speak for black folk.” Sharp and incisive, Dark Comedy is rap made for today’s society, and Open Mike Eagle is a rapper made for its denizens.
i promise i didnt write this.