|The first thing noticeable about Open Mike Eagle’s EP, Art Rap After Party, is the title. It’s particularly appropriate for a release with the artistic licence of art rap, whilst retaining the sensibility of something more traditional, realistic and grounded.
Clever rhymes, a relaxed flow and a soothing voice interact well with beats and melodic riffs well suited to the chilled-out feel of the EP. Self-referential but restrained, modest and truthful, Open Mike Eagle blends smart lyrics with genre-spanning backing tracks, creating an EP that is refreshing in its innovation.
There are elements (albeit few) that keep this EP from being truly great. The sax-based jazz of closing track “Last Night” seems disconnected from the unimposing backing of the rest of the EP, with lyrics that are disappointingly lacking in contrast with that of “Someplace Quiet” or opener “Everybody’s Birthday.”
Likewise “Haircut” is also disappointing, but for a different reason. It’s clear Open Mike Eagle is taking the piss – but the satirical nature of the track overshoots the mark. Lines like “You keep the party rocking with your CD-Js, looking like a character from GTA” and “You get it shaved up every three days, with the lines on the side like BDK” are both well-executed, but the track as a whole doesn’t sustain interest. The choral harmonies of the repeated refrain “I really like your haircut, I hope you stay ahead of the trend” gets repetitive.
However, these downsides are thoroughly overshadowed by the other three universally solid tracks. Opener “Everybody’s Birthday” introduces the EP as a counterpoint to the traditional LA rap scene and, for this reviewer, makes the release a success. Open Mike Eagle begins his release with a strongly worded retort to the city of LA, and the rappers within it - “And what makes me the target demo for your club date. I’m a nutcase displaying an obvious what-the-fuck face.” His laid-back style and slow pace wonderfully frame his clear disdain: “Play the game with your lame name dropping, I won’t complain, but in the next rap election I’m voting for change.”
If you want a change in the hip-hop you’re listening to, get Art Rap After Party. It’s not a revolution in rap, but it achieves what it aims, and does it well. - AU Review