“A Special Episode Of” EP – Open Mike Eagle REVIEW

Open Mike Eagle crafts another witty, fun, and thought-provoking project that doesn’t disappoint


Alex Ralston

Open Mike Eagle is a west coast-based rapper that first majorly caught attention in the hip hop scene in 2010 after releasing his debut album “Unapologetic Art Rap.” Since then, he’s moved up and worked with art rap label Hellfyre Club Records; Mike also signed with Mello Music Group and released his seventh studio album, “Dark Comedy,” just last year. A major component to his success is his clever and imaginative take on hip hop, in which he weaves comedic tales and takes observational humor to a slightly more artistic and philosophical level. But another factor in his burgeoning career is how he tells the tales — that is, Mike uses his slightly geeky charisma to immerse the audience in whatever song he hops on.

Now Mike is back with a new EP titled “A Special Episode Of” that takes all the best parts of “Dark Comedy” and puts them into a captivating project that showcases Open Mike’s artistic range. This EP focuses mainly on Mike and calls upon very few features to assist or raise its integrity. In only six tracks, Mike packs some of his most clever, humorous, and sometimes poignant lines. It feels like this album is a sequel to “Dark Comedy,” but in a way that’s not repetitive or boring.

The EP starts off with “Dark Comedy Late Show,” a redux of the intro on “Dark Comedy.” If you look at the credits, you’ll notice that Exile worked on this; in fact, he remixes the original beat into a much livelier and brighter instrumental, adding in stuttering high hats and chopping up the guitar sample. On this track, Open Mike addresses a variety of topics that have been on the news since the release of his last album. He speaks on Darren Wilson’s indictment, and paints the Ferguson riots as a super bowl game; he even ends up talking about the Spin Doctors, “Adventure Time,” the decline in Yahoo’s popularity, and internet culture. It’s a great track that combines several emotions and topics into a catchy, melodic package.

From there, we get a more specific track, “Split Pants At Sound Check,” where Mike details a night where he ripped his pants and had to go around the area trying to conceal his thighs and other body parts. Later on comes “Trickeration,” a track focusing on things that Mike and other Hellfyre associates view as tricks in everyday life. Mike, MC Paul Barman, and Milo deliver several comical and witty verses; the track has a lot of color and character, along with its share of nerdy flare. Mike again weaves a short tale about the aftermath of a wild party and how he deals with the post-party blues; maybe I’m trying to expand its meaning too much, but it feels like he’s trying to use the party as a metaphor for his life and his disconnection from the partiers or the wild ones.

The final track on the EP, “Ziggy Starfish (Anti-Anxiety Raps),” features another short story about Open Mike describing himself as an alien coming to earth and enjoying the overall experience; towards the end, he even makes a remark about playing Scrabble games in which every word play confesses something about its player.

Something interesting about this project is that Mike mostly relies on his own lyrics and ability to tell his stories; that is, there’s only two features on this album, and they’re both on the same song. Of course, as in past projects, Mike leaves the production to other producers, especially Illingsworth. Mike also attracts some pretty noteworthy producers such as Exile and Gold Panda to help create some really catchy, vibrant, and unique cuts. The sounds range from soulful and smooth cuts like on “Raps For When It’s Just You & The Abyss,” or jumpy and funk-infused like on “Trickeration.” It’s a very diverse sonic library that keeps the album interesting and enhances Mike’s storytelling.

Overall, Open Mike Eagle delivers a worthwhile and thought-provoking project that doesn’t bore. Instead of letting his success or recent events taint his personality or change his style, he incorporates them into the EP in a way that allows him to tell even better stories. The production is great, and Mike keeps on using his wit to attract the listener in and immerse them in food for thought.

Score: 9/10