Open Mike Eagle isn’t normally a combative rapper. His cakewalk delivery is usually soft, thoughtful, and often goofy. It’s surprising then to hear him so passionate on his latest LP: “don’t call me n***** or rapper / my motherfuckin’ name is Michael Eagle” he rasps on ‘Brick Body Complex’. Drawing the fury of Nas’ ‘Illmatic’ into the fantastical universe of DC comics, ‘Brick Body Kids Still Daydream’ is a defiant sci-fi elegy for the collapse of American social housing or, more specifically, the once tall buildings of the Southside Chicago projects where Mike spent parts of his childhood.
This is the Chicago MC’s most ambitious work, brimming with manifold voices, unified by formidable compassion. In these tracks are hard-man fathers “who ain’t cried since ‘94 or something”, church folk, and casual soft drug-taking mothers – all of whom are celebrated for their everyday dignity and herculean strength.
But the young daydreamers are the story’s protagonists; opener ‘Legendary Iron Hood’ reads as the origin of a child superhero, as ‘Daydreaming in the Projects’ honours the games of “ghetto children” as quietly revolutionary acts, heralded by breathy horns and a jubilant chorus.
However, for all the hope in ‘Brick Body Kids’, catastrophe still looms large. Playful beats descend into burning rubble by the album’s end (“it’s the sound of them tearing my body down”), and the characters – whom we now know and love – are scattered, much in the way generations of people were separated by the super-villainous demolition of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes.
While considering that much of today’s sharpest hip hop releases are stamped with his name (as collaborator with Busdriver, Kool A.D, Milo and many others), ‘Brick Body Kids’ is Mike’s greatest achievement yet. One gets the impression that new worlds are now open for him to explore, other forgotten histories ready to be reanimated. What’s more, Mike knows it, declaring “ain’t nothing gonna stop me now”.
Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines
As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.
Having thought about the best way to support our running costs (the printing and distribution fees, the podcast and production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for works out at £3 per month for UK subscribers, charged yearly.
If that seems like a bit of a punt, you can pay-as-you-go for £4 per month and cancel any time you like. European and world plans are available too, at the lowest rate we can afford.
It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.