Open Mike Eagle
1123 Euclid Ave NE
Atlanta, GA, 30307
This event is all ages
Open Mike Eagle
Open Mike Eagle might not have all the answers, but few artists in hip-hop, music, or American life are asking smarter questions. In a landscape governed by ceaseless babble, flashing lights, and hollow lies, Eagle harmonizes into the void so we don't have to.
On this descent into the digital trenches, Eagle teams up with British producer, Paul White for Hella Personal Film Festival. Released on Mello Music Group, the full collaboration finds White behind the SP-1200s, conjuring a psychedelic strain of soul-funk, booming drums, and 21st century crate-digging in tropical attics of the imagination. On the microphone, the Chicago-bred, LA-based, Eagle artfully breaks down the banalities and perils of the modern condition.
Recorded in London, Eagle's new album continues where his 2014 masterpiece, Dark Comedy, left off. It's anxiety-riddled but whimsical, addicted to and scornful of social media, stuffed with old wrestling in-jokes and film snippets. Self-aware admissions blend into attacks on societal double standards.
Known for alchemical solo work and collaborations with Danny Brown, Homeboy Sandman, and Mos Def, this is White's first proper union with Eagle. The two artists bonded over the notion of diversity. The process started out with rough demos, which White ended up finishing in post-production -- playing guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, percussion and pieces of wood found in a forest. Its genius ultimately comes from the pair mining a deep vein of emotional content -- a discussion of the things we feel that you don't say. A movie that hits so accurately it's almost uncomfortable.
These are tense anthems for the vulnerable, consecrations to black people with rich internal lives, agnostic prayers for those grappling with pain. They're emotional landmines leavened by the wry bleakness usually only found in great stand-up comedians. Eagle exists in the lineage of They Might Be Giants and Richard Pryor, Freestyle Fellowship and his longtime friend and collaborator, Hannibal Burress.
Within the first act, the plot becomes clear. See "Admitting the Endorphin," where Eagle raps, "I chase my poison tail and get so high that voices fail." These are the movies he'd make it he knew how to make movies. Surreal vignettes about waking up with burrito hangovers in hotels you don't recognize, wondering if you remembered to charge your phone. Aesop Rock and Hemlock Ernst (Sam Herring of Future Islands) pop up as fellow travelers.
No one is better than Eagle at capturing the nauseous disorientation of day-to-day life. The deluge of sports highlights, unread texts and Twitter notifications. The compulsive need to check your phone at red lights and pauses in conversation. But his incisiveness extends far beyond observational humor. "Smiling (Quirky Race Doc)" examines the slights and casual bigotry of daily interaction. "A Short About a Guy That Dies Every Night" is a morbid rumination on death.
These are the returns after long dark nights of the soul. When the noises are loud, the lights are off, and the armor is pierced. Short films that loop over and over again, as soon as you close your eyes.
billy woods is a rapper who defies easy categorization; he claims Washington D.C. as his hometown but has spent much of his life in New York City. He was born in the U.S. but spent much of his childhood in Africa and the West Indies, the second child of a Jamaican intellectual and a would-be Marxist revolutionary. On the mic, woods is no less of a conundrum, possessed of versatile flows and an ability to not only tackle topics other artists wouldn’t dream of, but also to bring unique perspectives to the familiar ones.
After spending much of the 2000’s as half of the now defunct Super Chron Flight Brothers, woods struck out on his own with 2012’s audacious mission statement, History Will Absolve Me. An album two years in the making, History…was a molotov cocktail of sarcastic fury, with production to match it’s uncompromising vision.
2013 saw billy woods collaborating with producer Blockhead (Ninja Tune, Def Jux) on the darkly humorous LP, Dour Candy. A noteworthy about-face from HWAM, Dour Candy garnered praise for it’s understated tone and wry wit, paired with Blockhead’s subtle craftsmanship. That same year, woods and fellow NYC rapper Elucid joined forces as Armand Hammer and released the incendiary album Race Music to critical acclaim. 2014 saw only the release of a vinyl-only EP by Armand Hammer, Furtive Movements, a more abstract project that in some ways served to set the stage for woods’ and Elucid’s solo work here in 2015.
Long before building the modest-but-loyal cult following that came with the Flight Brothers, woods made a name for himself with a left-field debut album and one intriguing ensemble project after another. A longtime associate of Cannibal Ox, he came into the game on the back of a collaborative record with Vordul called Camouflage, a low-budget, ultra-indie release that set the table for woods’ particular brand of blunted dissonance and lyrical tight roping. Camouflage was quickly followed by his first, true solo album, The Chalice, in 2004. With features from Cannibal Ox and future partner-in-rhyme Priviledge, The Chalice is widely accepted as woods’ best solo work to date. It would also be his last solo work for a long time as woods threw himself into a series of group projects, first as a part of East Coast rap “supergroup” The Reavers, with Akir, Karniege, Vordul Mega, Hasan Salaam and a host of other on-the-cusp MC’s in 2005. Then came the Super Chron Flight Brothers; between 2006 and 2010, woods and Priviledge released a trilogy of critically-acclaimed concept albums, wrapping cogent sociopolitical commentary in a potent mix of racial humor, weed rap and pop-culture references.