Difficulty Communicating: Yaggfu Front and Open Mike Eagle

Stream: Open Mike Eagle “Last Night” ((From Art Rap After Party EP.))

Stream: Yaggfu Front “Left Field”

Rap isn’t all machismo and ice-cold macking. Songs like Gang Starr’s “Love Sick” and Main Source’s “Looking At The Front Door” describe co-dependency in frighteningly specific detail. Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By,” and Kurious’s “Nikole” explore the perilous magnetism of unavailable and/or unattainable  women. A Tribe Called Quest’s “Find A Way” captures the frustration that arises when desire is chained to the artifice of social convention. Jay-Z’s “Song Cry” posits romantic regret as a player’s purgatory. Mos Def’s “Ms. Fat Booty” takes us  through the experience of being gasssed up and then unceremoniously dumped.

All of these songs address the difficulties that men face in communicating honestly with their partners (or potential partners), expressing vulnerability and affection, or living up to the responsibilities of monogamy. But these songs also fall short of introspective honesty; their self-deprecation is tongue-in-cheek and consists mostly of decrying shyness as unmanly.Their narrators place the majority of blame for the inconstancy of romantic love or domestic bliss on women, who are reduced to coldly unfeeling or manic caricatures possessing few other reasons for being other than maiming delicate male egos. The fatal weaknesses of men are described but not critically analyzed; the anti-logic of self-destructive patterns are justified by a pretty face and a Coke bottle figure; and questionable actions or words are chalked up to some variant of “boys being boys.” Open Mike Eagle’s “Last Night” is uncomfortably straightforward in comparison.

The song’s narrator, having slept off his drunkenness,  has run out of credible excuses for a series of bizarre text messages that he inflicted on a female friend the previous night. Unlike almost all of the aforementioned songs, the crucial information of the narrator’s mistakes is disclosed in the hook, which begins the song: “Last night I said a whole bunch of dumb shit/ Got drunk and said a whole bunch of dumb shit/ Full of gumption, pushing the send function/ on text messages I should have just pressed ‘End.’ ” The hook, recited in a dry, understated manner that it is a trademark of Open Mike Eagle’s style, ((Open Mike Eagle sometimes raps like a character right out of a Prince Paul skit. That’s a compliment even though it doesn’t seem like one.))  is a statement of exasperation, not irony.

The permanent record of text messages interferes with the healing properties of unreliable memories. The song’s narrator cannot simply wait until his friend’s recollection fades and try to rebuild their rapport. Unlike his predecessors who wrote in the age before texting became a primary mode of communication, Open Mike Eagle does not have luxury of being able to embellish his narrative too strongly in his own favor, noting “I haven’t found a rock big enough to crawl behind.” The age of information is surprisingly inconvenient. The damage to the relationship and any sense of privacy or anonymity he might have enjoyed is so severe that his most dignified recourse  is to let the unflattering truth pour out.

This happens over three verses; the first is an admission that his immature views on relationships and sublimated feelings led to the disastrous texts; the second is an embarrassingly specific account of what went on in his mind that night; and the third is a penitent but pessimistic verse that calls into question whether or not his insecurities stem from some fundamental moral failing. This is heavy stuff, but the buttery smooth production, Open Mike Eagle’s appropriately cool delivery, and the vividness of his narrator’s scathing metaphors — he compares his tragically repressed feelings for his friend as shrooms growing in shit— make all the drama and self-flagellation seem survivable.

By the end of “Last Night” we are left with a narrator who is something of a rake but not completely irredeemable, and his female counterpart, who is quite possibly a wonderful person, especially if she ends up forgiving him. Neither man nor woman is morally compromised or degraded by the experience; the dissolution of the illusory purity of their friendship may very well bring them closer. If not, then this misunderstanding is at least a realer, more intense experience than the deadlock of pointless cryptic flirtation. Playing games can heighten anticipation but irresolute tension is ultimately unsatisfying, and in any event, the song’s narrator could benefit from interacting more directly with an understanding female friend.

“Last Night” is exceptionally honest, but not entirely without precedent. Yaggfu Front’s impeccably layered “Left Field” ((From their 1994 album Action Packed Adventure.)) tells the tales of three men who are respectively too shy, too fly, and too stupid to let down their guards long enough to become emotionally involved with women. The first narrator, voiced by Jingle Bel, is fully aware of his flawed ways and their repercussions: “Sensitivity, is a virtue / And if I don’t show that, I hurt you.” Damage plays the second narrator who finds himself trapped in “the friend zone” because he fears rejection, while Spin 4th voices a wannabe gangster too tough to give a decent woman the time of day.

In assessing reluctance as a character flaw forged out of the codes of  hyper-masculinity instead of an effeminate weakness, the rappers of Yaggfu Front reveal an unfortunate emotional paralysis. But like Open Mike Eagle, their honesty allows them to sketch portraits of women worth changing for in the absence of actualized romance. The literalness and simplicity of the lyrics on both songs suggests that the complex abstraction that is present in so much of rap is sometimes an insufficient tool for exploring the nuances of character related to vulnerability.   — Thun

Tags: , , , ,


20 Responses to “Difficulty Communicating: Yaggfu Front and Open Mike Eagle”

  1. readybeeill says:

    Another good track for this would be Akrobatik’s “Woman”.

    • Thun says:

      Good call. It’s a dope song, although something about Akrobatik’s concluding verse annoys me, and I can’t put my finger on it. I think Open Mike Eagle tackled this topic better and more honestly.

  2. Droopy says:

    Two things, first could you please explain your last sentence? Second, bad ass post- Last Night is a great song and is all too familiar to me. To me songs are great at expressing experiences and awkward situations, but they never provide answers on how to resolve them.

    • Droopy says:

      Also, Baby Boy is such an underrated movie. The soundtrack is dope too

    • Thun says:

      A lot of rap music, by virtue of being slang-laden, is abstract. Even when discussing something as universal and emotional as heartache, rappers will use words and turns of phrases that require some deciphering, some amount of insider knowledge. They rarely just pour their heart out, or wear it on their sleeve, so to speak. When establishing a persona that is brash and full of bravado, this is effective because we expect such a character to engage in slick talk. When establishing a persona that is vulnerable, another approach is probably more suitable.

  3. […] Difficulty Communicating: Yaggfu Front and Open Mike Eagle | The … […]

  4. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually understand what you’re talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also visit my site =). We could have a link trade agreement among us

  5. Kharoj Paan says:

    My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was once entirely right. This put up truly made my day. You cann’t believe simply how much time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

  6. Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Glance complex to far delivered agreeable from you! By the way, how can we communicate?

  7. Sheikh says:

    Simply want to say your article is as astounding. The clearness in your submit is just spectacular and i could think you’re a professional in this subject. Well with your permission let me to snatch your RSS feed to keep updated with drawing close post. Thank you one million and please keep up the gratifying work.

  8. Hi, i believe that i saw you visited my web site thus i came to return the want?.I am attempting to in finding issues to enhance my web site!I assume its adequate to use a few of your ideas!!

  9. Saxena says:

    It is perfect time to make a few plans for the longer term and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this publish and if I may just I desire to suggest you few attention-grabbing issues or suggestions. Maybe you can write next articles relating to this article. I wish to read even more things about it!

  10. Escorts says:

    Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. In any case I will be subscribing on your rss feed and I’m hoping you write again soon!

  11. Martina says:

    Woah this weblog is wonderful i love studying your posts. Keep up the good work! You realize, a lot of people are searching round for this information, you could aid them greatly.

  12. Delhi Escort says:

    I have been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this web site. Reading this info So i’m happy to show that I have an incredibly excellent uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed. I so much for sure will make certain to do not put out of your mind this site and give it a glance on a constant basis.

  13. Saxena says:

    I’ve learn several excellent stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you put to make the sort of wonderful informative website.

  14. Thank you, I’ve recently been searching for info about this subject for a while and yours is the best I’ve came upon so far. However, what about the conclusion? Are you sure concerning the source?|What i do not understood is if truth be told how you’re not really a lot more smartly-preferred than you might be now. You are so intelligent.

  15. You’re actually a just right webmaster. The site loading pace is incredible. It sort of feels that you’re doing any unique trick. Also, The contents are masterwork. you have performed a fantastic task in this topic!

Leave a Reply to Thun Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *