Component System with the Auto Reverse by Open Mike Eagle album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions


Component System with the Auto Reverse By Open Mike Eagle

Open Mike Eagle

Open Mike Eagle once co-authored and participated in a study conducted by NIH that observed the locations of increased brain activity during freestyle rapping. Though this is not necessarily freestyle—but is most definitely “art rap”, a term he coined in 2010—his skull must be lighting up. “Escape from the overseers / I finessed it like Mama Mia / I Confess, like Bahamadia.” “I play the wall like a special titan / I ain’t a wizard, but I wrestle like him / The only wand I know detects metal items / That’s a lie, I know hella spells / Hear ‘em enough to tell ‘em well.”

On his latest record, a tape called component system with the auto reverse, he works his hip hop magic, recalling his time during the pandemic, his almost twenty five year rap career, his trouble sleeping, and any number of surprising cultural references to get his point across. On the cover, (perhaps a play on “Radiohead,”) is a man with one of those stereos we all had in our houses in the nineties for a head. And the album, with song titles like, “The Song With the Secret Name,” “Tdk Scribbled Intro,” and “CD Only Bonus Track,” plays like a mixtape that he made for someone he really wants to impress and connect with, incorporating an array of different styled beats by the likes of Madlib and Diamond D, with the occasional fake commercial or radio DJ banter to make it feel truly old skool.

“I was thinking about all the stuff I said before,” he says about his bare-all album, Anime, Trauma and Divorce. “My insides was out / Yesterday is safer, ‘cause you already know what happened / And every album / Is a little collection of pieces of yesterdays.” “I don’t always have the words for the feelings / So I decided to make you a tape.” Majoring for a time in Psych, he’s always been one to approach his art and rapping as therapy, and on this album he dissects his place in hip hop (“Got a well paid gig, no fans to greet me”) but fills it with heavy hitters like Aesop Rock, R.A.P. Ferreira, and Armand Hammer.

Respected in the hip hop community but fairly unknown in the mainstream, Open Mike Eagle owns his position on this album, both the bitterness of it (“This indie shit’s more like a war of attrition”) and the glory, dedicating one track to MF DOOM and celebrating the chance to work with one of his and the hip hop world’s heroes. He’s a cat that you can’t put in a box, citing everybody from Axl Rose to Michelle Ndegeocello, Stone Temple Pilots to the Talking Heads, Mitski to Kanye West.

With brilliant production, wonderful wordplay, and the priceless gimmick of working like a cassette tape he made for a friend, it is a super enjoyable listen. He’s not afraid to shine, but he’s quick to take digs at himself. He’s front and center, but thrusts his hip hop friends into the spotlight for a great percentage of the record. It’s everything that you want from a hip hop album, though it might not dive as deep as some of his previous records. Self-effacing and word-celebrating, it is what you might expect from an Open Mike Eagle record, and that is a good thing.

Purchase Component System with the Auto Reverse by Open Mike Eagle HERE


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