Admitting The Endorphin Addiction with Open Mike Eagle & Paul White


The story of addiction always involves a chase, so it’s no surprise that Open Mike Eagle & Paul White’s new video for “Admitting the Endorphin Addiction” features just that. What is of interest here is not so much the chase itself as the thing being chased: a high that looks like the mesmerizing smile of Isis Avalos. Open Mike Eagle plays himself, again unsurprisingly, since the song is from his latest album, titled Hella Personal Film Festival.

But unlike the average rapper bemoaning the dangerous allure of oxy, xanax and lean, Mike doesn’t need drugs to get down. For him it’s the endorphins themselves, the feel-good chemicals in the brain that are released by drugs, but also by exercise, emotional stress, pain, orgasms, or making rap songs.

 

I chase my poison tail

And get so high that voices fail

I heard that when you’re in a fucked up space

no one can hear you signal help

 

OME’s opening lines, half-sung over Paul White’s buoyant production, simultaneously assert and betray their own significance. The father of dark comedy rap has made yet another happy song about being sad. But this isn’t the kind of sadness that comes from any particular trauma–it’s the gradual sadness of addiction, the incremental numbing between doses that compresses life’s transients into a flat cacophony.

“Admitting the Endorphin Addiction” is a song about the cyclical elation and depression of creating things, but what makes it so interesting is that as a created thing, it is the object of its own examination. And in making music to comment on the anxieties surrounding making music, Open Mike Eagle finds himself speaking into a twisted feedback loop, where everything is in danger of being reduced to a distorted echo, chasing itself forever.

 

As I feel my withdrawal

I understand those 90’s songs

Rap music has ruined me

I always want to loop my favorite part

 

The final lines of the second verse are probably my favorite on the album, offhandedly poignant and self-referential in a way that only Open Mike Eagle can pull off. Everything about this song loops back onto itself. Thinking about it is like running your finger along a mobius strip, trying to decide what’s inside and what’s out. I can only imagine what it feels like to have made it.

Isis dances before Mike’s eyes. She reaches out her hand to take his, leading him on, but the two never quite embrace. This is what it means to attempt meaningful signification, to put feelings into words and music. You just never quite get there. Sometimes you get thrown in the sand and then wake up, confused and alone. But sometimes you get so damn close that you keep trying, and in the end, to try is all there is. To try is simply and necessarily to keep living. In the uncertain darkness of the tunnel, Isis Avalon carries a torch. Open Mike Eagle goes in after her.


Henry Whittier-Ferguson