One famous Oscar Wilde aphorism claimed: "if you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise, they'll kill you." Open Mike Eagle lacks the capacity to tell anything but the truth. In a nation that prizes self-aggrandizing buffoons and artful liars, morbid humor might be the sanest response-a tourniquet to stop the toxicity from spreading. If this sounds heavy, it's probably because it is. Dark Comedy, the Mello Music debut from the critically revered Los Angeles rapper, is mostly about the failure of Karl Marx's Proletariat Revolution. Yet its brilliance stems less from the novelty of its ideas than from the ingenuity of its wordplay, its caustic whimsy, and infectious melodies.
Opening track "Dark Comedy Morning Show" operates as a shorthand manifesto. For those who haven't heard, Eagle's bad at sarcasm, so he works in absurdity (when trying not to wish death on the upper class). The airing of grievances includes racial stereotypes, inner-city warfare and Facebook logging all of his favorite sandwiches. It's Slug's "Modern Man's Hustle" if the Atmosophere frontman had been haunted by James Baldwin's ghost instead of heavily tattooed exes. Lead single "Qualifiers" finds Eagle subverting the notions of traditional rap braggadocio and lyrical terrain. His revolution isn't just some abstract political ideals, but at the crux of his approach to art. This is intended to dump Coconut Water and whiskey on the unsuspecting heads of those with false ideas of authenticity or what rap should be.
Lest you mistake him for a meditating yoga-panted rapper, the rapper raised on the Southside of Chicago, wields wordplay as sharp and weird as any of his peers. He proclaims himself "the King of all rappers who don't condone date rape." Molotov Cocktails are helpfully tossed from fellow conspirators Kool AD and comedian, Hannibal Burress. Former hockey star Luc Robataille is rhymed with the Kobra Kai Dojo from Karate Kid.