Song of the Day: “Whiskey and Push-Ups” featuring Open Mike Eagle

Will Schube offers a few words on the newest session featuring the art-rap pioneer.
By    September 12, 2019

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Will Schube has yet to meet Doug Stamper.

Drinking whiskey and doing anything is hard. Drinking whiskey and doing push-ups makes me sick just typing about it. But Mike Eagle is a superhero (his friends are too) so if anyone could down a fifth of Jack and then bust out a quick 20 set it’d probably be him. All this is a way of setting up Mike’s recent collaborative mini-documentary with Chicago indie label Closed Sessions—titled “Whiskey and Push-Ups—” which is a fun little peek into the creative process of an already-legendary emcee at the height of his craft.

Here, two underground heroes of Chicago link up, Mike, the savvy veteran seeking warmer pastures in LA, and Closed Sessions, the resilient label proving that there’s still a market for underground music in an increasingly above-ground world. With the project igniting an uncynical nostalgia in Mike—plus an excellent beat from Minneapolis-based BoatHouse—he feeds off his Chicago roots and shows the precise way he crafts staggering bar after staggering bar.

“I was listening to the beat this morning, tryna get an idea what to do, but it wasn’t until I literally got in the car and we were walking through the snow and we opened the door…I was like, alright. It reminded me of the rapping I came up doing in Chicago. The punchline-y shit, just like, going for it. That’s the part that’s fun.” Mike is looking off-camera when he says this, seemingly remembering the cold studio nights in the tiny rooms where he recorded his earliest work. In his two careers as a bonafide indie star and Comedy Central creator and star, Mike’s moved away the playful shit-talking that populated his early works. Sure, it’s still there in small doses, but Mike has a voice that outlasts a clever bar. On “Whiskey and Push-Ups,” Mike finds home in the Chicago he left long ago.

The video sheds light on the intimate and sacred bond between producer and emcee (and Video Dave), working through bars and Mike’s signature sing-rap flow. It’s only a one-off track that will live on the internet and slowly disappear like everything does, but it’s also something more special than that. It’s an encapsulation of an era that has sadly departed, but its players march on, older, wiser, better. Next time we hear from Mike Eagle, he may be chugging absinthe between bench press sets.

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