Open Mike Eagle has described his brand of hip-hop as “art rap,” while typically being classified as an “alternative rapper.” While the art rap stamp rings true, I would beg to differ that what Eagle brings to the table is “alternative.” Or, if it is, everyone else needs to change the way they think and talk about rap moving forward because what Eagle offers should be the norm. What you get from Mike Eagle is everything rap ought to be: witty intelligence, great flow, comedic value, punch lines that make you think twice, and good supporting beats.
Normally I hate describing certain music as “smart” for the same reason I detest describing people as “nice.” More often than not these terms are lacking. However, since the word “smart” means “Having or showing quick witted intelligence,” there really is no better way to sum up what Eagle brings to the table. Clad in earth tones and a turquoise wood medallion, unassuming, thoughtful and reverent to the rap task at hand, Open Mike Eagle began his show at Columbia City Theater last Saturday night by
wafting scented oil into the air tracing an unknown word in the air while holding a figurine, facing East to pray, and passing around a golden crown for the audience to touch before starting his set. This was a dope way to establish energy in the room while also alerting the audience to just how important his particular craft is to him.
Eagle has a smooth voice and cool delivery, and he clearly loves performing his well-crafted bars. Not one to move about on stage or call too much attention to himself, he leaves room for what is most important: his raps. He made intense eye contact with the crowd, was very personable, and not over-confident, even though his skills justify any bragging he might do about his own dopeness. Instead of all the bravado that rap is accustomed to, he just stood and delivered, song after song. Eagle pulled off something rare by making heavy social commentary without sounding like a show off.