Open Mike Eagle - What Happens When I Try to Relax EP - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Open Mike Eagle - What Happens When I Try to Relax EP

by Tim Sentz Rating:8 Release Date:2018-10-19
Open Mike Eagle - What Happens When I Try to Relax EP
Open Mike Eagle - What Happens When I Try to Relax EP

Mike Eagle’s been slowly climbing the ranks of hip-hop in America for the last ten years. He’s collaborated in collectives in the past but found the most success lately as a solo project. His raps are full of pop culture references, homages to great rock and rap icons, and usually are devoid of the traditional verse-chorus-verse structure. Eagle’s not the type to spit rhymes with vitriol aimed at other rappers in the game, something mainstream hip-hop has an abundance of.

Last year, Brick Body Kids Still Daydream launched Eagle into a minor spotlight. His most accessible album to date, Daydream was brimming with clever and witty lyricism, and managed to expose Eagle to a wider audience. His rhymes were fun, referencing pro-wrestling, Evanescence, Star Wars, superheroes, and everything else pretty much under the sun that he could think of to throw in. OME had landed, and Brick Body was the clearest, and most succinct statement he’d made to date.

A little over a year later, with Brick Body still getting plenty of play, Eagle drops this 20-minute EP – What Happens when I Try to Relax, a six-song sprint, created on-the-fly by Eagle. Relax is a taster for what’s to come from Eagle, and while it’s short, it accomplishes his intent. Given that this was self-released, there’s almost no barriers to keep him confined – not that it’s necessary, as he’s never been Kendrick Lamar-style rapping. He keeps his ego in check often, rarely going outside of that comfort zone. To say it’s a safe EP, isn’t saying much – it’s intentionally safe, that’s why he opens it with “Relatable (peak OME),” a tongue-in-cheek, self-aware cut that has simple but still clever rhymes, filling the voids with pop culture references as always. It’s Eagle’s way of poking fun at the icon status of folks like Travis Scott, Lamar, etc.

The strongest take from Relax is “Every Single Thing,” a response to America circa 2016-2018. “You can’t impeach at least give us summer breaks,” he sings, about the non-stop Trump coverage, but also “And black life value is not a size,” attacks the negative response to Black Lives Matter. He may not be on the largest stage, but Eagle’s making his best moves – the best he can – no matter the stage. “Microfiche” keeps things moving, though not as memorable as the previous two tracks. His references to the NFL, Flintstones, Bob Newhart and Castlevania are fun, and the chorus of “It can all go away, just shut yo eyes” is clearly in response to those wanting to bury their heads through all of this. Still, it marks the kind of mid-point for the EP.

“Single Ghosts” seems out of place for devoted fans, but it shows a lighter side of Eagle, though the beat is eerie, kind of Halloweenish, hence the subject matter. No political undertones, just a Tinder date with a ghost basically. It’s kooky and fun, but not the strongest work from Eagle. “Southside Eagle” contains the first name drops of release – Milo (a frequent collaborator), Soulfolks, Kendrick, Vince Staples – but he states “I’m in a rap network, out of placement” which is accurate. Eagle might get his name dropped in circles, but he’s very much an independent artist and “Southside Eagle” explicitly outlines his status for newcomers. You won’t hear Eagle mentioned with Staples or even Tyler, the Creator. He’s left field, maybe in his own silo.

The EPs strengths are with Eagle’s witticism – he’s clever, relevant, and funny. But just like his previous work, this fills out a niche for those who want something less vicious. Even if he’s considered at the top of his game now – which he is – it’s not the release one would expect after the triumphant Brick Body, it’s merely an extension of that release. Even as the EP closes with “Maybe Gang (an initiation)” as Eagle raps “your generation’s been cursed, what that trauma do,” it’s clear Mike Eagle knows his own place in the rap world – he’s a voice for the underrated, underappreciated, and under-utilized. But he’ll keep going, just like all of us will.

Overall Rating (0)

0 out of 5 stars
  • No comments found
Related Articles
Open Mike Eagle - What Happens When I Try to Relax EP - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Thom Yorke - Suspiria OST
  • 10/22/2018
  • By Tim Sentz