|Around the middle of Unapologetic Art Rap a voice inexplicably resembling Stephen Malkmus’ (of Pavement and the Jicks) rises out of the ether on “Pissy Transmissions.” Acoustic guitars, sparse drums, and that voice showing up on a hip-hop album sounds insane, but it’s just one of many departures Open Mike Eagle makes from what you would normally encounter on a hip hop album. |
The closest parallel might be Busdriver’s Fear of a Black Tangent, an album that celebrates the off-kilter, avant-garde side of all music. So, it’s not really a surprise when the Los Angeles based emcee shows up on “Original Butterscotch Confection” to impart some words of wisdom alongside….Cookie Monster? Yes, Cookie, “we have to go on with the rhyme!” Leadoff track “Art Rap Party” proffers a thesis for the album, equal parts editorial criticism and humorous self-deprecation. With references to board games, anime and chai tea, Open Mike Eagle rides these sliding melodies with ease.
The syncopated chorus on “I Rock” showcases the silky singing Open Mike peppers throughout the duration of the album. Complementing the stuttering beat are excellently manipulated vocal samples in place of a traditional melody, courtesy of respected West Coast producer Exile. The production from Alwayz Prolific, Maestroe and the aforementioned Exile is uniformly progressive and solidly planted far left of the mainstream perfectly matching the emcee’s sensibilities. Low End Theory regular Nocando shows up on “Unapologetic” to spit a few bars over the climbing LFO synths and thumping kicks. “Easter Surgery” references dinosaurs and plastic surgery by way of Back to the Future alongside voiceovers and a lovely little sing-song clip.
The album ends with the time-honored posse-cut featuring Open Mike Eagle’s crew The Swim Team on “Go Home.” A buzzing drum kit and wobbling synth grants each emcee a feature and functions as the triumphant conclusion to Unapologetic Art Rap. Open Mike Eagle goes a long way towards demonstrating music shouldn’t be viewed as simply entertainment. Here it’s intended as art. - Cleveland Independant