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First Watch: Cavanaugh (Open Mike Eagle & Serengeti), 'Screen Play'

If hip-hop songs were movies, your typical banger would be a blockbuster action flick: hyperreal, hypermasculine, heavy on stunts and special effects, light on substance. Open Mike Eagle and Serengeti (a.k.a. David Cohn) don't make those kinds of songs. Their music is the heady, darkly humorous indie movie of the hip-hop world. What they lack in budget, they make up for with nuanced characters and sharp commentary about the human condition — specifically, the experience of the blue-collar artist.

Longtime friends but first-time collaborators, Eagle and Serengeti have joined up to form the duo Cavanaugh. More than just an excuse to trade rhymes with a buddy, their project Time And Materials is a concept album in which the two play namesake characters Mike and Dave, two dissatisfied maintenance workers at the fictional Cavanaugh housing development. It's part luxury condo and part low-income housing project, with two separate entrances for its rich and poor tenants.

The first clip from the ambitious project is "Screen Play," a stark black-and-white video that finds the protagonists at a bar, presumably after a long day's work. The two go back and forth with deceptively mundane stream-of-consciousness rhymes that reveal their insecurities and fears. The viewer is a voyeur, watching these damaged men babble through a peephole while they shoot pool, throw darts and gaze at screens in the sports bar. Cinematic without being grandiose, the video and the song capture Mike and Dave's melancholy perfectly.

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