Open Mike Eagle Dark Comedy

Open Mike Eagle Dark Comedy
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Open Mike Eagle's unique brand of hip-hop has earned him a growing legion of supporters in recent years amongst rap's nerdier connoisseurs. That support isn't always easy to wrap your head around, especially with loaded descriptors like "alternative" and "intellectual" slipped into the sales pitch. The Chicago-bred MC's knack for obscure pop culture references, half-sung delivery and quirky anecdotes of an at times painfully average existence make for an endearing combination when the production has enough pace and character to support his meandering lyricism, and new set Dark Comedy offers a few shining examples.

The skittery "Qualifiers" is the record's clear high water mark, with Mike Eagle's animated references to daddy life and African travels adding potency to the cut's danceable rhythm. Digital head-nodder "Thirsty Ego Raps" and the sonically unsettling "A History of Modern Dance" also work surprisingly well at allowing the rapper to fully flex is lyricism in two very distinct forms. Unfortunately, separating these high points is an unmotivating middle third of woozy dreamscapes, float-y vocal melodies and half-baked lyricism that, despite the odd pointed barb and clever two-liner, make for a difficult trek to the record's end. (Mello Music Group)