Open Mike Eagle Brings Literary Raps to Lawn Gnome
Andy J. Scott Open Mike Eagle
The owner of >Lawn Gnome Publishing, Aaron Hopkins-Johnson, is one of the best slam poets in the country, and so it stands to reason that his store is a hub for those interested in the spoken word. Lawn Gnome once held one of Phoenix's most popular open mic nights, it runs the only official poetry slam in Phoenix every Thursday evening, and has also played host to legendary wordsmiths like slam poet Saul Williams and anarcho rapper Sole among others.
"Man I didn't know they used to do an open mic night there, people are going to get confused," joked L.A.-based "art rapper" Open Mike Eagle.
OME will be throwing the Phoenix release of his brand new album Dark Comedy in the homey environs of the quaint used book store.
"This album has darkness, but also a kind of absurdist humor that appeals to me. I sort of separated from that with my other albums, but on this one there are just kind of freewheeling whimsical rap songs. It more balances in the darkness and light of my own aesthetic. It's definitely a lot more levity, my last album was kind of dark, very conceptual and dark and the theme running through it was kind of a depressing one when you break it down," he says.
Lawn Gnome is really the perfect environment for the rapper, who prides himself on his wide vocabulary and use of the English language.
"It was a recommendation from Goonie [Jim Jiliker]," says Eagle,"I've played a whole bunch of places in Phoenix and I was a little surprised, but that's the way we decided to go."
Lawn Gnome is no stranger to hip-hop either, having hosted Dadadoh, Shining Soul, The Insects, and Something Villainous in the past. The store even briefly hosted the short-lived monthly live streamed hip-hop night "Live at the BBQ."
Eagle's last Phoenix appearance was on March 18 at the Crescent Ballroom with the Hellfyre Club. But anyone in the know, knows that the real happening of that evening was when the entire Hellfyre Club showed up at Bikini Lounge for 602sdays and ran a freestyle cypher to the beats of DJentrification.
"DJentrification became my favorite thing in the world that night. He's amazing, mixing and cooking and people dancing and it was insane. I need to connect back with him when I get there," Mike Eagle says.