Review Summary: Caught Me Daydreaming
“Art rap” and “alternative rap” are terms often scoffed at at first glance. They’re seen as justification for stupid themes, confused production, bad rapping, and—for many on this site—Death Grips
. Yet, Open Mike Eagle is an example of the true heights this strange sub genre can reach. This body of work is a true piece of art. It has a clear purpose and vision and executes both with unflinching imagery, broadly applicable symbolism, and musical excellence.
While not strictly a concept album, Brick Body Kids Still Daydream is pitched as a love letter and reflection upon the project housing Open Mike Eagle lived in during his formative years in Chicago. The resulting themes of self-motivation, survival, loneliness, abandonment, and passive anger reveal themselves in the album’s down-to-earth (yet fulfillingly complex) wordplay. These are best shown in the mid-album stream-of-consciousness “Daydreaming in the Projects”. Issued as equal parts letter, sermon, and reflection, Mike elevates thoughts from his early years to an all encompassing scale, dedicating the song to kids like him: “This one goes out to the ghetto children.” From analysis of conflict between mustard lovers and mayonnaise devotees to the ironic trials of a rapper with asthma, Mike compresses a life of lessons learned into an emotional rollercoaster of a rap song.
That calls up an important aspect of the album: the songwriting is pure genius. Each feature choruses, melody, and proper structure, creating a coherent, listenable album. In fact, it’s so easy to consume that many of the more complex assertions and pieces of wisdom are lost on the first listen. Take the early one-two punch of “(How Could Anybody) Feel at Home” and “Hymnal”; the two songs are mostly sung and are centered on catchy melodic hooks. Not until having them pop up a few times on a playlist did I fully comprehend the symbolic nature of the closing of “O’Doyle’s” and what it meant to Mike. That hidden complexity only adds the album’s beauty and longevity.
Brick Body Kids Still Daydream is a masterstroke of rap music. It transcends any typical criticisms of rap (and its sub genres) without having to directly address a single one. The album simply has something to say. Anyone who listens will know it. The daydreams come after.