July 17th, 2014 | Album reviews

Open Mike Eagle
Dark Comedy
Mello Music Group

Confession time (and I’m ashamed of this): despite reviewing albums in the past that Open Mike Eagle was on, I kind of had no idea who he was until last year, when he appeared on the Hellfyre Club Dorner vs. Tookie collaboration, and his complaints about rappers saying “bitch” too often impressed me. He was both moral and awkward, two qualities not normally boasted about in rap lyrics, but which are prominent themes in Dark Comedy, Mike’s seventh album. So too is nerdiness—Mike gleefully references comic books, Seinfeld jokes, and even They Might Be Giants! And he doesn’t shy away from calling out people for their idiocy and greed. Take the track “Doug Stamper (Advice Rap)”  in which he tells white rappers not to use their stupid “hood voice,” tells Lebron to quit steroids, and even tells paid porn site subscribers to try YouPorn for free… though, of course, they should “pay the fee” for his own tunes! Hypocrisy? Nay … Mike’s narrator may be unreliable, but purposefully so, just one more tool to help us glean insights about our media-driven culture and the devices we use to propagate our tomfoolery. Despite what, at times, might seem like almost whimsical production choices, like cute little acoustic guitars, it all ties in to an overarching theme. I’m still not quite sure what that theme is! But when a rapper chooses to have his beats get out of sync, you know he’s doing some serious artsy ninja stuff. And you should pay attention.

-D. M. Collins