I discovered Open Mike Eagle’s latest EP, “Rent Party Extension,” when Milo, a rapper previously discussed on the site, hyped it up on his Tumblr. The LA rapper has put out two albums and three EPs prior to this one, however, he took the song “Rent Party Revolution,” first released on “Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes,” and bundled it with some unreleased tracks in preparation of a new album later on this year.
Newcomers to OME’s style of rap may find many similarities to Milo, but besides the fact that they’re both rapper who confess to reading books and their preference to Flying Lotus-style production, everything else is misguided speculation. The intro track “5ree Thinkers” proves that in droves, with OME delivering sly, cynical lines about his worldview: “Keep it close to the vest like Pakistan/don’t watch the mic, the other one is the magic hand A little oral projection, a little astral man/clap your unshackled hands/partying with kings ’til the whole damn castle dance.” He gets into some nice pocketed grooves of continuous flow, his lyricism doesn’t immediately give a definite guideline of beliefs, and his delivery’s so relaxed and laid back on the peculiar beat that they almost meld together.
Things get much better on “Amped,” as OME brings a head-nodding flow that keeps me coming back. His verse is decent, but Eagle Nebula provides a great feature verse full of absurd and hilarious statements: “We are good rappers and we don’t sell crack/we read, have feelings, and we’re also very black.” Her voice literally sounds “amped” like she spat these bars while voguing with eyes wide open. Likewise, the song “Neighbor” feels just as absurd, but with a creepy tinge, as OME rhymes about off-kilter over Infinity Rock’s overbearing instrumental. The beat jumps in from the right to left ear with an burping bassline, followed in suit by a haunting wail and electric bleeps and bloops.
Milo features on the stellar “Boss Fight,” starting his verse with a nerdgasm of a showstopper: “Kanye West is RoboCop, I’ll be Judge Dredd/I’m playing video games until my eyes are blood red.” His cool and calculating aesthetic works as a great foil to OME’s increasingly paranoid flustering, especially on the beat that would be the perfect theme for a SNES-era Miami Vice video game. OME has some nice video game references on the track, but obviously got too hyped up in the booth. We get it, video games are cool.
Thankfully the closing track, a remix of “Rent Party Revolution,” leaves listeners with a clear and grounded view of his reality. On an earnest beat, he talks about the struggles of his liberal arts upbringing, musing that he “[grew] up to be the brokest smart guy ever.” It’s a personal track that surely resonates with every college grad who was told to follow their dreams and major in Romanian Literature, only to realize that it never guaranteed a job. The song makes a fitting conclusion, as he presents his least elusive narrative that’s actually tangible beyond sounding cool. Granted though, his fiber-rich style of rap has its place. “Rent Party Extension” makes a very great introduction to Open Mike Eagle’s character, with a fun roster of features and sounds to boot.