Album Review: Anime, Trauma and Divorce by Open Mike Eagle
Excellent, Based on 3 Critics
Pitchfork - 80 Based on rating 8.0/10
Open Mike Eagle has spent much of the last decade developing support networks that have enabled his modest success as an independent rapper. In 2019, it all fell apart. Hellfyre Club, the collaborative group featuring Eagle, Busdriver, milo, and Nocando, disintegrated amid business disputes. Comedy Central declined to renew The New Negroes, the show Eagle launched with comedian Baron Vaughn.
To an extent, Mike's music has done the same, commentating on his side hustle as a comic on 2014's Dark Comedy and now writing an album leaning on his love from Japanese anime at the end of what he describes as the worst year of his life, writing that: "before the world went to sh*t I was already in the middle of a personal crisis". Although nothing is stated explicitly, the album's name strongly infers the kind of personal crisis Mike is referring to, and the resultant series of songs tackle personal crises with a wit familiar to anyone who's followed Mike's thirteen years in the game. "Death Cycle" opens the album by detailing the patterns of trauma-transferal which occur across generations, with a flow which is woozy and downtrodden.
With one limb in the comedy world and another in all things nerdy, if there was one musician likely to blame a dystopian sci-fi tv show for the breakdown of his marriage, it would be this one. "Thought that it would be another Lost in Space / Now I gotta go and get my own damn place," spits Open Mike Eagle on 'The Black Mirror Episode', the track a perfect balance of frustration at his situation, and complete self-awareness (while likely not on his Christmas card list, Charlie Brooker is probably not about to be summoned). Written after his therapist reminded him of his musical outlet - see the "dude got screwed up / shit got burned up / so he fucked her up… and I got chewed up / and shit fucked me up / so Ima fuck you up" of opener 'Death Parade' for evidence of that particular strand of navel-gazing - 'Anime, Trauma and Divorce' is as wry as documents of desperate times get.