During yesterday’s “Albums of the Week” feature, we inadvertently overlooked a release that should have been included. Open Mike Eagle, or OME as we’ve come to know him, dropped his third studio album on Tuesday entitled, 4NML HSPTL. If you’ve been following this program for the last few months you may recall that we premiered the first single “Universe Man,” which features a guest verse from underground hip-hop head Serengeti. The response to the record was impressive and it also prompted one of the coolest comments section posts we’ve ever had from none other than OME’s mother. It truly was a family affair.
With the full album now officially out for purchase (get your copy here), we wanted to also share with you the contents of a recent conversation I had with the eclectic, multitalented artist. During our discussion OME touched on topics ranging from work on the new LP, to a volunteer trip he took to Uganda in support of the LA youth organization, J.U.I.C.E. Be sure to pick up 4NML HSPTL, out now.
Click “next” or the pic to read the conversation…
Your new LP 4NML HSPTL just dropped yesterday. Tell us about it.
It’s a motherfucking tour-de-force, son! It’s my third studio album. It’s all produced by Bristol, UK’s Awkward. It’s being released by the good people at Fake Four Records. It’s an initiation into the indie rap illuminati.
It has an interesting title. Are you trying to get any sort of message across with that?
There is no message. Not one that can be used to tie it all together anyway. It sounds like the creaky furniture in a creative space. It’s a summation of much of the shit that I’ve felt the last two years in particular. It’s the product of what I like about rap music and the sounds and ideas that have influenced me from other genres. It’s also an initiation into the indie rap illuminaiti.
How do you pronounce it?
That makes sense I guess. [Laughs]
Let’s talk a little bit about the recording process. You mentioned working with UK producer Awkward, did he have a lot of influence over the direction and style of the album?
Yeah we definitely collaborated in terms of how the sound of the songs came together. I learned in the making of this record that I’m a bit of a tyrant when it comes to the production process. I’m glad we finished before Awk decided to curse me out. I learned a lot about giving up control after a certain point and letting him do his thing.
He’ll laugh when he reads that last sentence.
I’d rather he laugh than curse either one of us out.
You have a lot of great guest features on 4NML HSPTL. What was it like
working with guys like Has-Lo, Nocando and Danny Brown?
Danny cool as fuck, and the rest of those dudes are good friends of mine that trust me enough to rap on these zany ass songs with me. My shit tends to take cats out of their element sometimes, and I’m honored that these cats are not just willing to go there with me but, de-fucking-liver at that.
Open Mike Eagle ft. Danny Brown – “Cobra Commander”
You categorize your brand of music as “art rap.” Explain what that means.
It means there ain’t no father to my style, fool! (except Rammellzee, MC Paul Barman, MF Doom, Prince Paul, Edan, Aceyalone, and Breezely Brewin)
You’re originally from Chicago, but currently live in LA. What led to the relocation? Do you prefer one over the other?
Preferences are for rich people. Life moved me to LA in 2004, and it’s working out for me, but it’s not my home. Then again everytime I go back to the Chi all the buildings have switched places so thats not necessarily home anymore either.
In addition to solo material, you also record with Thirsty Fish and Swim Team. What are they?
Thirsty Fish is a three-man group made of myself, Dumbfoundead and Psychosiz. We put out two albums and probably did hundreds of shows between 2006 and 2010. Swim Team is a larger rap crew that started with Thirsty Fish. Members include Sahtyre, Lyraflip, Alpha MC, VerBS, Rogue Venom, and DJ Zo. We all clicked up from hanging out at Project Blowed. We’re like the Blowed class of ’08.
We hear you spent time in Uganda with Ras G as part of a hip-hop artists exchange through the non-profit J.U.I.C.E. What was that experience like?
Intense, fun, scary, sad, exhilirating, itchy, eye-opening, sleepy, odorous, enriching, muddy, dusty, moist, and educational.
What attracted you to that organization?
I’ve worked in or around J.U.I.C.E. since I’ve been in LA. It’s an organization that teaches b-boying, rapping, djing, and graffiti to LA youth and there was an organization like it that was instrumental in introducing hip-hop into my life. I’ll do anything this organization wants me to do. Ever.
Outside of music, you reportedly do some comedy and theatre performance. Does doing that help with your writing and rhyming?
I don’t do comedy and theatre per se. I’m a comedy nerd for sure, and the funnier elements of my work have opened doors for me to perform alongside many comedians that I’m a super fan of. It’s perfect for me because their audiences are really open to what I have to offer.