Open Mike Eagle — or at least his stand-in in his latest video, “Every Single Thing,” Michel — has been going through a nadir. He’s questioning himself and seems to be pretty depressed. He decides the thing that will help him is filling a box of meaningful items and taking it down to beach for a symbolic cleaning. Among the items he puts in the box are a cross, symbolizing religion, a doll, symbolizing his self-hate of his own Blackness, his passport, symbolizing his disappointment in the US, and a copy of the essential writings of Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (a clever call-out by Mike, to be sure), along with one other thing: A Make America Great Again hat.
Of course, there are a lot of things that the hat could symbolize, one of them being the idolatry of musical stars like Kanye West, who infamously donned the controversial headgear on numerous occasions last year. All these items and more end up as kindling for a beachside bonfire as Michel rediscovers meaning in his own music, ending the clip by walking away with his midi controller after spending some time making beats in the forest. The video is shot as something of an art film project, with grainy resolution and subtitles. Even the protagonist’s name, Michel, could easily be read as a reference to auteur Michel Gondry, whose influence oozes throughout the video. Given that Open Mike is into art films as much as he is wrestling, I wouldn’t put the reference past him. It’s a pretty deep video with a lot of layers. Considering it comes from Mike’s latest album What Happens When I Try To Relax, it’s fitting and not at all a surprise.