In previous episodes, Open Mike Eagle has been extolled for being one of the most incisive writers in rap. Self-aware and satirical, the Chicago-born LA-based rapper doesn’t shout out James Baldwin to sound smart. He does it because he understands too well that the “world in which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent.” Thus, he stays “familiar with his lineage and spends a lot of time defending it.” If writing is the science of the artful complaint, pop culture has few more eloquent critics. For the first single from the forthcoming Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes, Eagle explains the roots of his nightmares. —Weiss
There are some who believe that the human mind is not a source of creativity. They consider it more of a receiver.
In this sense, the mind is described not as a generator of electrical impulses but rather a machine, like a radio, which must be tuned to a particular set of frequencies to receive a signal.
The identity, for lack of a better word, of the transmitter of this signal is debated. Some say god. Some say a part of ourselves that exists on another plane. Some say oddly proportioned space lizards.
Every now and then I flirt with giving this idea some creedence.
There’s a songwriting cliche that I find to be somewhat true that may be related to this idea:
“The best songs kinda write themselves”
I was in a rut of writing some not-so-great songs when the beat to Nightmares found me.
I had been talking to Willie Green via the internets for a couple of weeks when I heard that track on his bandcamp page.
The beat made me realize I had been forcing some of the things I was writing at the time. It politely told me to shut the fuck up and pick up a pen.
I started writing what is best described as “stream of consciousness”. Its a collection of loosely connected notions, all of which I believe to be somewhat true.
That is to say, there’s not much exaggeration or colorful imagery for its own sake. There’s not a lyric in it that hasn’t really happened either in real life or in my head. I would say that only about 4% of it is hyperbole. I did go to the valley to get a manager, but I don’t think he has much experience in the adult film world.
Since the lyrics came to me so easily, I figured I would do what I could to honor both the creative process and the mood of the beat when it came to writing the hook. These aren’t exactly the lyrics that were in the first demo version, but like a few other parts of the song, the hook edited itself over time to get itself right where it needed to be.
“Cause every word that comes through me, it was born in a nightmare”
Since no one can tell me exactly what a dream is, I’ve decided that its the traveling of our consciousness through different planes of existence. My best guess is that these other planes are not in a different space/time. They are different dimensions that exist in this same space but vibrate on different frequencies.
Its magickal quantum physical hippie shit. And for my money its where the space-lizard-god-self lives. And thats where all my raps come from.
That and the ever-present gay ghost of James Baldwin.
Shout out to Cornel West.