Atmosphere has never ranked atop my favourite indie hip-hop acts. I realize they are the darlings of NPR and the frozen tundra of hip-hop mecca of Minneapolis, but…I just could never into them beyond a few random tracks.
But I like the cleverness of the title and decided to delve in head first and see what we got out of it. I have to say that the album starts off rousing with Like The Rest Of Us. It’s the right way to start an album when someone skeptical is going to fire it up. It’s emphatic and doesn’t waste any time.
The beats on this album are decidedly low-grade and the production does distract from the output a bit, but even beyond that I have a hard time with Slug’s flow because he’s almost too emo-rap for me. He just kinda goes on and on. It must be a Minnesota thing, because I feel like all of the rappers that come out of there are too top heavy with their verbiage and it makes it hard to listen to them.
It might sound funny to say a rapper shouldn’t use too many words. But I’m just saying that if you do or if you have a tendency to bloviate as a rapper, you better come hard on every track or else, you’re gonna lose people or they’ll switch to the next song before you get your point across.
But back to the album, When Life Gives You Lemons… is a pretty good album. The beat on You is just begging to be sampled by someone and tracks like Painting, Yesterday, Me and Wild Horses are all solid riding tracks. Ant’s beats get better as the album goes on, but it’s still hit or miss and it seems that it’s all very dependent on how well Slug fits into the beat to determine whether whatever he’ll say after the first bar will take the track anywhere.
The best damn track on the album hands down is The Waitress. The thing I like about Slug A LOT is that he lets you know from the start whether he’s going to come hard and when he does, it’s no joke. The guy knows how to craft a tale built on stories of stale coffee, riding the bus late at night because you’re homeless or working double shifts to make ends meet rap. It’s built on what seems like authenticity of the first order. (Maybe Barack Obama needs to listen to this to connect with “working-class Americans”)
To do that in any sort of music is an accomplishment, to pull it off on a rap album is a coup. Pick this one up, k?