Humor can conceal and alleviate the pain of trauma, but no joke will erase it. Even Wu-Tang Clan told you that tears come after laughter. Relief comes only from opening every emotional and psychological wound.
Open Mike Eagle spent the 2010s finding comedy in rap music and American nightmares. On albums like Brick Body Kids Still Daydream and Dark Comedy, he delivered hilarious socio-political insights via half-sung verses laid atop progressive production. Acclaim from publications like Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and NPR coincided with headlining solo tours and top-billing at events like Adult Swim Festival. Between studio sessions, Eagle co-founded The New Negroes, a standup-meets-music variety show that explores perceptions of blackness. He and co-founder Baron Vaughn brought the show to Upright Citizens Brigade, Comedy Central, and venues around the U.S. Since founding his record label Auto Reverse Records, though, Eagle has scaled back the jokes. He’s finally unpacking his traumas and acknowledging their impact.
With over a dozen solo and collaborative projects to his name, Eagle has spent his career redefining and expanding the parameters of “art rap,” the term he coined as a shorthand for leftfield and avant-garde rap music. On Dark Comedy, which Pitchfork called “one of the most compelling indie-rap listens of ,” he chronicled everything from smartphone addiction to the realities of being an indie artist in the streaming era with self-deprecation and side-splitting absurdity. 2017’s Brick Body Kids Still Daydream (Mello Music Group) marked Eagle’s shift toward examining trauma. Here he waded through the rubble of Chicago’s demolished Robert Taylor Homes, where several family members once lived. Part documentary and part tribute, BBKSD b lended powerful fantasy and grim reality. It illustrated the strength and vulnerability of a community afflicted by institutional racism and the enduring pains of life in the projects. There were few jokes but decades of survival.
Anime, Trauma, and Divorce is Eagle’s first full-length album on Auto Reverse and the most personal project of his career. On the verge of middle age, reeling from the collapse of his marriage, he probes the darkness of his past and searches for lights to guide him forward. This is the sound of a broken man sifting through the pieces while trying to rebuild, the struggle to self-critique while practicing self-care. Do you disassociate by envisioning yourself as the lead in your favorite anime, or do you reflect on your headass behavior? Tattoos and beer or push-ups and smoothies? Executive produced by renowned rock producer Jacknife Lee (U2, R.E.M.), the album’s few features include Auto Reverse artist Video Dave and Eagle’s son. Anime, Trauma, and Divorce finds Eagle virtually alone, doing his best to reject the humor that will not cure his ills. All is not well, but he’s never been better.
Pink Navelis a non-binary / gender-nonconforming rapper from the south shore of New England. Growing up, pop culture, videogames, cartoons, and various media quenched Navels thirst for unique outlets of creativity. As a self proclaimed scholar of social media, videogame and internet culture, and outsider music, Navel uses their varied and wide range of influences to craft a truly new and special take on the indie rap of today. Representing the Poet Gang known as Ruby Yacht, Navel never disappoints with a loud, energetic live performance. After touring the U.S. for the last 6 years, their experience shines bright.
Hailing from Nashville, TN. and now residing in Washington, DC, Ardamus has become a hip hop veteran in the DMV scene has been a part of. Starting at the age of 8 with rapping, he developed his talents over a number of years being influenced by a rap’s greatest hits tape his sister let him borrow. After high school. Ardamus moved to Washington, DC where he developed skills as a lyricist and attended Howard University for a Bachelor’s Of Science in Anthropology. After getting a feel for the city and the music scene, he got involved with non-profit organizations that incorporated arts with commentaries on social justice and local hip hop battles in the community. Fast forward to now, the Wammie nominated hip hop artist has worked so hard to the point where he has shared the stage with such acts as Souls Of Mischief, Myka Nyne, 2Mex, Blue Sky Black Death, Ceschi, Phife Dog, Blu & Exile, Shad, R.A.P. Feirrera, and many others. From being in two bands as well as various hip hop groups to working on collaborative efforts with the NIH and 202 Creates, Ardamus has honed his skills over over time as a hip hop artist. Currently, he is working on on solo projects for his own brand, Goldbrick Olympics, and for Cold Rhymes Records; along with working on projects with Strangers That Clique, The Lucky So & So’s, and The Color School Band.