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Open Mike Eagle and Waldo to play Gardner this Friday

Open Mike Eagle will be joined by Waldo in Gardner on Friday. Photo contributed.


Open Mike Eagle will be joined by Waldo in Gardner on Friday. Photo contributed.
Open Mike Eagle will be joined by Waldo in Gardner on Friday. Photo contributed.


This Friday rappers Open Mike Eagle and Waldo will play Gardner Lounge at 9 p.m.

Waldo is the founding member of the hip-hop collective AGO, a group of musicians and producers including artists such as Sango, The SEVENth and Savon, who are concerned with pushing the boundaries of rap.

Waldo has cited a wide range of musical influences from Raphael Saddiq to 50 Cent. This combination of soulful music and hardcore hip-hop is evident in his music. On his track “Better Late Than Never,” he skillfully layers disparate sounds as his soulful voice sings over spacy synths and a hard-hitting beat. On “Been A Long Time,” the beat replicates the double time hi-hats popular in trap music and yet it’s coupled with a sample of jazzy horns. Waldo excels at combining the hype with the unusual.

Both of these tracks are off of “Be Ever Wonderful,” Waldo’s seventh and most recent project released last month. The album title, a reference to the Earth, Wind & Fire song of the same name, may seem surprising for a contemporary rapper. Perhaps it’s a reference to Waldo’s experience making a name for himself as an artist. The lyrics to the song assure, “Time is right, in your life tonight / Find your place among the Broadway light.” It’s hard to not compare these lyrics to Waldo’s own on the album. On the track “Something U Forget,” he asserts, “I was born to be star, just look at my performance.” Lucky for us at Grinnell, we get to witness this performance firsthand.

Open Mike Eagle similarly has experience with hip-hop collectives as a member of LA’s Project Blowed. However, it’s in his solo work that he’s been able to highlight his unique style. His influences range from Pavement to De La Soul, resulting in what he describes as “art rap.”

The sound of his music is difficult to pin down because it’s always different. Sometimes a song calls for horns, sometimes guitar and sometimes whistling. And yet, all of his music maintains a specific, fresh style, in which he skillfully tackles ideas of race, current events and pop culture. He will follow a line about police brutality with a line that references the “The Royal Tenenbaums.”

On his most recent album “Dark Comedy,” he showcases his ability to write lyrics that are sometimes funny, sometimes serious and often a combo of both. On the track “Informations (feat. Kool A.D.),” he humorously explores what it’s like to live in the Digital Age, rapping, “I’m part flesh and part energy / The last text I sent you was from the heart literally.” This song, like much of his music, is a direct response to contemporary culture and feels like it could only exist today.

From art rap to trap, hip-hop is an exceptionally diverse genre, constantly combining into new styles and scenes. Both Open Mike Eagle and Waldo are artists who explore the inventive potential of rap and form communities around it. Come to Gardner on Friday to witness a set from these groundbreaking artists.

Listen to Open Mike Eagle here

Listen to Waldo here

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