Album Review: Open Mike Eagle & Paul White – Hella Personal Film Festival

by Dustin

HPFF

7.75/10

After kicking off the month of March by winning the incredibly prestigious Extraordinary Nobodies Artist of the Month nod, Open Mike Eagle looked to have a strong finish to the month with his brand new full length album. Having found a home for his unique brand of “art rap” on Mello Music Group, Mike set the bar high for himself with the one-two album-extended play punch of Dark Comedy and A Special Episode Of. You may be asking, “did he follow up these two projects with another exceptional album”? Well, if you had paid attention to the little score at the top you would already know that yes, yes he did.

The album is also titled Hella Personal Film Festival. So yeah, that’s a thing too.

Hella Personal Film Festival listens almost conceptually, with every track being a movie script to some aspect of Open Mike Eagle’s life. He’s always been a very relatable artist, yet this album manages to push that a little further. Though Mike keeps his absurd, witty, and sometimes sarcastic approach to analysis, it becomes obvious right from the opening track that this project will be at times more serious and introspective. There are moments on Hella Personal Film Festival that seem to put him at his most vulnerable, exposing scars and concerns to the listener.

I heard that when you in a fucked up space,
No one can hear you signal help,
I tried to set them straight,
And tell them I self medicate,
All they saw’s a glitchy video,
But then I never show my cards,
Instead I write for stealth,
Blah blah blah, I cry for help,
All this bellyaching’s just to say,
My belly’s hurting after all.
Admitting the Endorphin Addiction

At times it did feel like Mike had lost some of the vocal energy that he had in abundance on Dark Comedy, but the more somber approached fit the subject matter well. His delivery at times felt more similar to Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes than to his newer work, which was a bit surprising at first. Don’t take that to mean that he took a step backwards though, because that couldn’t be less true. Open Mike Eagle’s writing, emotional awareness, and presence on Hella Personal Film Festival has quite clearly progressed. It’s just more closely related to his older records in terms of overall sound.

The album only has two guest features, Aesop Rock and Hemlock Ernst (the rap personal of Future Islands’ Sam Herring) on “I Went Outside Today” and “Protectors of the Heat” respectively. This selective use of guests artists is fairly typical for an Open Mike Eagle album, and both managed to add something to the songs on which they were featured; however, Aesop probably had the more interesting verse of the two with his ever-so-confusing charm. Busdriver also makes a quick appearance at the end of “Dang is Invincible” where he says a grand total of nine or ten words. He’s not listed as a feature, but the voice is unmistakable.

Gotta admit it’s hard to feel good without being narcissistic,
Did the whole tour and didn’t get a parking ticket,
Looked in my heart and there wasn’t no darkness in it,
Feel awesome dude, found some wind to throw caution to!
Dang is Invincible

Production also really has to be discussed for this album as it was a collaborative effort with UK based music producer Paul White. White is perhaps most well known for his work with Danny Brown will on both XXX and Old. He has also provided production for the likes of Homeboy Sandman and Guilty Simpson. As far as the instrumentation on this album, he did a wonderful job at providing beats which compliment Open Mike Eagle’s voice. The sound is somewhat more conventional that most of Mike’s discography, but in this case that is certainly not a bad thing. There is not a single instrumental on Hella Personal Film Festival which feels out of place. They flow into each other very nicely, building a cohesive atmosphere throughout.

If you were looking for powerful booming production though, you wont find it here. It would be kind of questionable to be looking for bangers on Open Mike Eagle album in general because that’s not really his style, but hey, it was worth a mention.

Living from check to check, I keep checking,
Incoming call, directly reject it,
If you want to talk, suggest you leave message,
I check, check, check like every three seconds,
I’m recording right now and I’m checking between takes,
Every notification that my phone machine makes,
I put it down whenever, but it’s never a clean break,
I should get a heavy phone and pretend it’s a free weight.
Check to Check

Basically, if you are a fan of Open Mike Eagle’s previous work it’s not a stretch to say that you’ll enjoy what Hella Personal Film Festival has to offer. It might not be the best jumping off point for a new listener, as it is surprisingly more dense than an album like Dark Comedy (which is probably the easiest album in Mike’s discography to jump into in terms of lyrics and overall sound). If you’re looking for an record that takes multiple listens to fully digest, but still offers some comedic relief, then Hella Personal Film Festival may just fit your taste perfectly.

Just be sure to give it more than a single spin (you’ll want to anyway).

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10 Questions with Detroit’s Fatt Father

by Dustin & Apu

FF

Those in tune with the underground scene in Detroit will recognize the name Fatt Father. He has worked with hip-hop artists like D12, Elzhi, Black Milk, and Sean Price (just to name a few). On top of killing features Fatt Father has carved out a fan base through his solo releases and group projects with Detroit rap quartet The Fat Killahz alongside King Gordy, Marv Won, and ShimE BangO.

We were lucky enough to land a small question and answer session with him leading up to his new album, Veterans Day. Once again, I would like to extend our thanks to Fatt Father for taking time out of his day to do this! We’re a small blog of fans, and it is definitely appreciated!

If you’ve never listened to his tunes, definitely give them a listen (and check out the interview below)!

EN: Who would you say are your biggest influences musically?

Fatt Father: Notorious BIG, Scarface, Royce da 5’9”, The Fat Killahz, and The Temptations. I listen to soooo many different artists and genres of music, my list could actually go on forever but those are a few of my favorites!

EN: I thought “They Know” was fantastic, can we expect more music like that from you and D.R.U.G.S. Beats on Veteran’s Day? How would you describe the sound of the album?

Fatt Father: It gets even BETTER! “They Know” was actually just a warm-up… It is no where near what we’re bringing on Veterans Day! D.R.U.G.S. Beats is one of the dopest producers out there and he’s “Dr. Dre Approved” [laughs], so you know that he’s a beast. The only way to describe this album is “classic”, and that’s what we we’re shooting for. Veterans Day features The Fat Killahz, Kuniva (of D12), Royce da 5’9”, Elinor Wyn, Chordz Cordero, and many more talented individuals.

EN: I know you’ve worked with a variety of different artists like Black Milk, D12, Guilty Simpson, and more, but do you have a collaboration with another rapper that stands out to you as a personal favorite?

Fatt Father: I would have to say “Grime” from my Fatherhood album because it features Guilty Simpson, Sean Price (Rest in Peace), and Roc Marciano. These are 3 emcees that I respect and look up to, so whenever I hear the song it feels like I’m the little brother that finally got the chance to hang out with my big bros and we all did our thing!

EN: Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with?

Fatt Father: Scarface! I just feel like Scarface is never afraid to put his heart on the track and I’m the exact same way so I believe that we could create some AMAZING MUSIC!

EN: Can we expect another Fat Killahz release in the future?

Fatt Father: Good question! [Laughs] I actually don’t know. It would be dope, however, everybody’s occupied with life and individual projects so if time permits, I truly believe that none of us would have a problem with making it happen, but until then we’ll just have to wait and see

EN: On the topic of the Fat Killahz, I have to ask: is King Gordy as wild in person as he comes across on record? He’s always seemed to have that rock-star attitude.

Fatt Father: He is absolutely insane but he’s my brother so I’m forced to love him! [Laughs].

EN: Are you and Marv still planning to release music as The Twin Towers? I really enjoyed that Ca’Mon song with Ro Spit when it came out.

Fatt Father: Yes we are! We just have to finish up a few more songs and hopefully it will be released after we both drop our solo projects that we’re wrapping up.

EN: On twitter and in your music you’ve always come across as an incredibly supportive parent. If you could give one piece of advice to all the dads out there, what would it be?

Fatt Father: Take advantage of EVERY moment that you get to spend with your children and NEVER take time for granted!!! I love to see my children smile, so I try to make them happy as much as I possibly can.

EN: I’m a big fan of food, so I thought we could touch on food for a second. What what the most delicious meal you’ve ever eaten?

Fatt Father: I don’t know but I can guarantee that it had bacon on it! Bacon is absolutely amazing and if it was legal to marry it, I would have no problem giving bacon my last name! [Laughs].

EN: One last question: If you had to choose, would you rather eat bacon cheeseburgers or bacon wrapped shrimp for every meal during 2016? I’m a bacon cheeseburger man, personally.

Fatt Father: I would go with the bacon cheeseburger, but I would definitely try to trade in the burger patty for more bacon! [Laughs]

EN: I’d just like to say on behalf of myself and Extraordinary Nobodies, thank you so much for your time. It’s a pleasure to be able to interview you for our site.

Fatt Father: Yo, thanks for reaching out! I appreciate all of the love and support! Check out FattWorld, Veterans Day COMING SOON!!!

Artist of the Month: Open Mike Eagle

by Dustin

OME

Have you ever found yourself sitting at home wishing you had music in your library that you could really relate with? Not just emotionally, but also in terms of the small day to day things you want to tell people, but don’t because you’re afraid of boring your friends with another complaint about your kids smearing pasta into the couch? If this is something you’ve been looking for in music, look no further than the Chicago-born-Los Angeles-based Open Mike Eagle.

Also, he is Extraordinary Nobodies’ featured artist for March 2016! So, if that’s a deciding factor for you, now you know that you’ll enjoy his music.

Finding his beginnings with Project Blowed and Hellfyre Club, Open Mike Eagle now delivers his unique brand of any-man rap through Mello Music Group. His sound has evolved since he released his full length solo debut in 2010, Unapologetic Art Rap, but one thing has remained consistent: Mike is not afraid to put a musical spin on the small aspects of life that many will find themselves relating to easily. Perhaps most impressive is that he manages to take these things, which may seem banal, and turn them into entertaining music.

It’s something that seems rare for rappers to do, focusing on the small experiences that are often overlooked. At the same time, it’s refreshing and makes Open Mike Eagle seem like one of the most down to earth artists out.

G-g-get up and dance,
G-g-get up and dance,
I w-w-wipe my son’s ass,
And get shit on my hands,
Qualifiers

Putting the quirkiness aside, he is also talented at grabbing listeners through common struggles. Student debt, concern over the current social climate, and general anxieties are topics that frequently find their way into Open Mike Eagle’s music. He’s personal, but in a tasteful way.

‘Cause I was studying brine shrimp and parasites,
And learning how to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit,
With thick glasses and everything,
Supposed to have big cash when I’m seventeen,
From working in research labs with acetylene torches,
And a flying Porsche with leather wings,
But looking back I wasn’t too clever,
Cause I grew up to be the smartest broke dude ever .
Rent Party Revolution

It should also be noted that his production choices are generally fantastic. You won’t find big production in Mike’s work, the beats are generally somewhat simple in nature; however, they’re weird, buzzy, and suit his sound perfectly. Though he uses a variety of producers on his projects, fans will recognize names like Oddisee and Exile in the production credits of Open Mike Eagles work.

In fact, he even gave self producing a try on Time & Materials, the collaborative effort between Mike and follow whimsical rapper Serengeti. Though he won’t be producing his next full length album, he showed promise and raw talent as a producer.

Cause people want you to join ’em in a bad dream,
Miserable motherfuckers are quick to start a tag team,
I was pretty close to tapping out, they almost had me.
Bright Green Light

His music is very much alternative, and a lot of the time he’ll switch from straight rapping to songs that feature a singing-focused delivery. Is it perfect? Nope, but he does make it work with his music very well. He’s not afraid to step outside of his comfort zone and try something different (such as creating a concept album like Time & Materials with Serengeti). His releases feel cohesive, yet they all manage to have a distinct flavor.

It’s a good flavor, but one you wouldn’t expect, like pistachio ice cream. Open Mike Eagle’s music is pistachio ice cream. You heard it here first.

I’m far away from my house, wrote this song in the hotel room,
On a day of the show, got canceled, now this room feels like Bellevue,
Jupiter’s got twelve moons and there’s life forms on a couple of them,
Give a fuck if my plans fell through, if I’m deep purple or pale blue.
Big Pretty Bridges (3 Days off in Albuquerque)

Give him a look, at the very least you can say you tried something new. Isn’t that what music is all about?