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Open Mike Eagle gets hella personal on “Component System with the Auto Reverse”

Open Mike Eagle returns this October, not as tired as he was last time. The Chicago rapper known for his slick hooks, plethora of pop culture references, and deeply personal lyrics flexes his strengths once again on his new record “Component System with the Auto Reverse.” The record draws inspiration from his younger years creating cassette tapes from radio using a component system. Eagle uses samples from Chicago hip-hop radio stations, nostalgic imagery from his teenage years, and pays homage to his heroes.  

Coming after 2020’s “Anime, Trauma, and Divorce,” Open Mike Eagle follows up on some of the same topics. On the tracks “Kites” and “I Retired and Then Changed My Mind,” he describes almost quitting, and confesses his feelings of failure despite his success. He talks about his failed Comedy Central show, and painting himself into a corner artistically, in an “art rap” niche. 

Image via Pitchfork

In an album centered around nostalgia, Open Mike Eagle references his idols, and even brings on one of his heroes, Diamond D. The New York artist produced three tracks on the album. Eagle also gave him the closing verse on the cleverly named last track, “CD Only Bonus Track.” On his podcast “Secret Skin” he made clear that this was intentional. He said it made the record sound like something he would listen to from his tapes. He cites Diamond D as one of his greatest influences.  

Open Mike Eagle respects another one of his idols on “For DOOM.” A cleaned-up freestyle from when MF DOOM passed away, Eagle cites the late rapper’s impact on him. He states how proud he was to be able to work with his hero. 

Throughout the album, Open Mike Eagle showcases his excellent lyricism. This record has no shortage of wonderful flows and lines. Tracks like “I’ll Fight You” contain smooth, flowing rapped choruses, something Eagle has excelled in throughout his career. 

Open Mike Eagle brings in close friends as producers and features, like Illingsworth and RAP Ferriera. Both artists feature on “Multi Game Arcade Cabinet.” Ferriera opens the track with a staccato, rhythmic poetic flow over the Illingsworth produced beat, with punching bass and rippling pianos. The track also features close friends of Eagles, Video Dave and Still Rift.  

Image via Flood Magazine

A low point on the record is the song “Circuit City.” Though produced by the legendary Madlib, who worked with Open Mike Eagle’s hero MF DOOM, the beat feels like impossible to rap over. The roaring guitar and a gospel-like ambience doesn’t allow Eagle or either of the features to build a flow. Throughout the song, it feels like they’re continuously stumbling over their verses, unable to find a concrete rhythm to stand on. 

Two tracks produced by Quell Chris “79th and Stoney Island” and “Burner Account” stand out as the record’s high points. The first features a bluesy, shuffling beat, where Open Mike Eagle reflects on what makes him happy, like hearing his son’s laugh. The track ends with an audio clip from Chicago’s WHPK, the hip-hop radio station he grew up on. “Burner Account” sounds like a ride on the L-Train, including rumbling train wheels and a predictable clunk in the rails. It features the New York duo Armand Hammer, alternating intense, abrasive verses. 

“Component System with the Auto Reverse,” while still holding over some grievances from Eagle’s previous album, reflects on his past and the good times he still cherishes. Despite many traumatic experiences and loss since his career began, he can appreciate who he has become as an artist, and the people who got him there. He does this all in one of the best albums released this year.


Component System with the Auto Reverse” is out now available for purchase and streaming.