Album review: Open Mike Eagle supplies tasty samples and steady instrumentals in “Anime, Trauma, and Divorce”

Open Mike Eagle is a modern genius. I am a big fan of his work, and this album is a hard reminder on why I, and so many others, listen to him. Michael W. Eagle has got a golden voice and lyrics that must be absorbed fully.

Eagle composes his tracks as if they were freestyle slam poetry sessions that got scheduled on top of a lo-fi DJ set, or a jazz band rehearsal. His poetic lyrics are cemblent of some early Childish Gambino work, with his own nerdy, complex flavor. This album has almost everything I could ask for. With tracks like “Asa’s Bop” bringing hotter instrumentals and harder verses to “Death Parade,” a chill, sit-back type bop, this album is diverse and knows exactly what it wants to be.

The track order and compositions is clearly intentional, pacing the different styles together. This specific combination of songs keeps every track fresh. Eagle also likes to keep his music relevant, including many pop culture references in his verses. References include some of his favorite anime, an entire track about a Black Mirror episode and his track “I’m a Joestar (Black Power Fantasy)” is chalked full of references, backed by a catchy 8-bit trap beat.

These references, for me, can sometimes be untasteful and cringeworthy. However, as it stands, all of his tracks can be enjoyed regardless of one’s knowledge of the inspired source material. 

I feel it would be rude to not give the final track a little spotlight. Eagle starts “Fifteen Twenty Feet Ocean Nah” with an introduction about his seemingly failed attempt to go snorkeling with his family. Featured on this live track is his son, with some pretty solid bars for a kid of his age. The track is not the most impressive compared to his other works, but the charm is there, and it’s always awesome to see rappers include their kids in their projects.

This album has something for anyone. It’s got dissonant, hard beats and slow soft jams. Eagle has found the perfect combination as a singer and hip-hop artist. Proving he can both sing and drop bars, this album feels near perfect for a fan of both heavy verse type tracks, and lyrical pop-inspired rap. 

Although there is no uniform mood to the record, this album has the ability to capture emotions though well thought out lyrics and properly produced tracks. The flow is solid, the songs are fun, and Eagle has a golden voice. I would recommend this album and any of Open Mike Eagle’s other works as I find his talent to be endless and his tracks to be pure ear candy.

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