Verbal essence: Atmosphere's Slug


Anyone who's been following Atmosphere -- the Minneapolis indie hip-hop act comprising MC Slug and DJ Ant -- over the past 10 years likely isn't too surprised by the sarcastic title of the duo's fifth full-length, You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having. In the conflict of man versus himself, Slug is one of hip-hop's premier battle-rappers, his mouth a closet from which the skeletons (broken family, failed relationships, etc.) come tumbling out in brutally honest and insightful fashion, bolstered by Ant's granite beats and inventive, soulful, old-school-informed textures. Still, the new album is dark, even by Atmosphere standards. That's probably due, at least in part, to the events of July 16, 2003, when a 16-year-old girl attending an Atmosphere show in Albuquerque was raped and murdered by the venue's janitor after the gig. Slug deals with it on "That Night," alternating between sadness and rage, even wondering during its first few stanzas whether he should have even written the track, lest it be seen as exploiting the tragedy. If Atmosphere performs the song at this show, it'll be one of many intense moments further amplified by the group's energy and magnetic stage presence -- it may not be "fun" in the carefree sense, but chances are you'll have a great time.


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