Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Open Mike Eagle

  • Unapologetic Art Rap [Mush, 2010] **
  • Dark Comedy [Fat Beats, 2014] **
  • Brick Body Kids Still Daydream [Mello Music, 2017] A-
  • What Happens When I Try to Relax [Auto Reverse, 2018] A-
  • Anime Trauma Divorce [Auto Reverse, 2020] A-
  • Component System With the Auto Reverse [Auto Reverse, 2022] ***

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Unapologetic Art Rap [Mush, 2010]
"Ain't no party like an art rap party 'cause an art rap party's so smart" ("Helicopter," "Mole in Your Ministry," "WTF Is Art Rap?") **

Dark Comedy [Fat Beats, 2014]
Beatwise enough to prop up his unpretentious absurdity-trumps-sarcasm, but not to put it across ("Informations," "Dark Comedy Morning Show") **

Brick Body Kids Still Daydream [Mello Music, 2017]
The meek shall inherit the rubble of the Robert Taylor Homes, demolished because drugs even though most of the 27,000 who resided in a development designed for 11,000 were ordinary Chicagoans surviving as best they could. So this rap nerd who rhymes this band he likes called the Kinks with a refrigerator that don't stink makes up songs for these Chicagoans. In one he's a superhero he thought up himself who protects his neck with magic jewels; in another he celebrates a holiday he thought up himself by extinguishing garbage fires; in yet another he's so brave he had an asthma attack last bar and you didn't even notice. Hey, he's even got a They Might Be Giants beat. Why would any bedroom music fan deny him? A-

What Happens When I Try to Relax [Auto Reverse, 2018]
On six tracks overseen by five producers, the deepest music is built into the sayings of a guy conversant in the same ballplayers, wrestlers, videogames, and alt-rock you are. "When I get nervous I say something relatable." "I hate when I'm late because I try to be punctual." "Everything ain't great but I can do worse/Cause I can go to the dentist when my tooth hurt." "Everybody I know got a stomachache." "My lady ask am I good, I said hell naw." "The economy killed the rhyme star." "Sign an autograph and sell it to your own self." "And I'm so political, hella political." "A generation's been cursed, what that trauma do?" "How it both sides? We ain't both dyin." "Tryna reach black kids in a room full of whites." A-

Anime Trauma Divorce [Auto Reverse, 2020]
For a decade now, Eagle--the surname he was born with 40 years ago on Chicago's South Side--has been an exceptionally logocentric rapper in an alt-rap he's always seemed too alt-rock for and an exceptionally analytic one in a hip-hop that commodifies the personal. As he reports on a traumatic 2019 when his 14-year marriage went the way of his Comedy Central series and also his waistline, he finally turns confessional. But what puts the album across is music: the atmospheric beats of Nedarb, an emo-rap pro unknown to me. Beyond the occasional "What the hell is self-care?" and "I really don't want to log into my bank account," anime fans will understand the lyrical details better than I can. Netflix sci-fi fans, too--"The Black Mirror episode ruined my marriage" is such a striking refrain I'd check out whichever episode it was with my arm around my honey and my fingers crossed. Good thing he can still afford a therapist. Good thing too that he hands the final track over to his son Asa, Lil A$e to you. A-

Component System With the Auto Reverse [Auto Reverse, 2022]
As their guest spots remind us, the ace rhymer who called his debut Unapologetic Art Rap just isn't as musical as art-rappers Serengeti, R.A.P. Ferreira, or Aesop Rock ("The Song With the Secret Name," "Crenshaw and Homeland") ***