Mello Music Group artist, Open Mike Eagle completed his European tour on the 21st of March. The 37-year-old performed a sold out show at The Jazz Cafe in Camden. Sixth album deep and to great critical acclaim, Eagle is in the most established and successful part of his career to date.
Mike made a point to talk about his upbringing – describing the poor household he grew up in as a child. The words ‘Ghetto children’ in the chorus from the track ‘Daydreaming in the projects’ highlights an underlying theme. An ode to the power that music can play on society. Mike encapsulates the voice of creative minds in blue collar community. The endeavours and dreams of children growing up in destitution. On the track in particular, the beats were ambient and ethereal. The simple repeating melody, had a hypnotising effect on the crowd. The repetitive nature gave the rapper scope to vary vocal tone and air the poignancy of the song – as a reminder that Hip-Hop music should never be underestimated as a movement packing political potency.
Throughout Open’s set, a Detroit, Dilla-esque style could be heard. These dirty, punctual synth bass sounds – resonated particularly on the unreleased tracks. From behind the decks, Mike’s understated presence transfixed the crowd. He stood solidly, spitting poetry, controlling the direction of the beats. On occasions he would grace the stage with his presence
On a track like Dark Comedy show, which ran an infectious current of energy throughout the audience. Mike’s very direct and personal lyrics, seems to shrug off the industry’s bullshit in an all seeing manner. Accepting the flaws and trivia of modern day music with the knowledge of being in an untouchable place as a part of the niche, art rap world. Possessing the creative license to make experimental but direct music, to a receptive and grateful crowd.The animations, videos and vibrant colours, worked as a backdrop for at times, sombre, mellow moods the rapper tried to convey. On as song such as, ‘Legendary iron hood’, the slow paced beat, shifting in and out, unravelling a conscious flow. The background was symbolic of the atmosphere being sung. Contrast to a song such as No selling (Uncle Butch pretending it dont hurt) where wrestling videos and strobe lighting is used, to emphasise the gritty, dirty, brash shouting vocals.
A range of music from across different eras in Mike’s discography was played. The newest album Brick body Kids still daydream, was mostly performed. It all seemed to translate into this cohesive body, each song smoothly running into one another. With the artist narrating you through stories of his life growing up as a child on the South-side of Chicago. Overall the set was drenched in a melancholic nostalgia, the kind of inescapable sounds that narrate your everyday.
He had conviction and complete self-belief in what he sung about the state of the world. The tragic effect that the demolition of social housing is having upon the neighbourhood he grew up in. The sense of losing the landscape of childhood memories. On one of the last tracks at The Jazz Cafe, ‘My aunties building’ was an emotionally charged song – that hits a pinnacle at the point he compares his body as a physical manifestation of a building, ‘That’s the sound of them tearing my body down.’