Come Back Down, Atmosphere
Slug gets grounded
by Sara Brickner
Slug has a problem. Actually, he doesn’t. And that’s the problem with Atmosphere these days: After writing all those incredibly raw, personal rhymes about struggling to make it in a devilish industry while battling your own set of demons, Slug’s finally come through it. Atmosphere is financially solvent. There is no day job. They’ve made it. Of course, this meant that Slug had to find something to write about other than women and being broke, which is why some of the tracks on 2008’s When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold feel hollow: because everyone, even Slug, was tired of listening to Slug bitch about water under the bridge when his future seemed so rosy. Happily, Atmosphere’s come through its mid-life crisis unscathed, proving that Rhymesayers’ flagship act still has plenty of life pulsing through its veins. The band just released To All My Friends: Blood Makes the Blade Holy: The Atmosphere EPs, and it’s a return to the Atmosphere we once knew and loved before Slug and Ant were big enough to fill WOW Hall, let alone pack out the McDonald Theatre.
On Friends, Slug’s still rhyming about being a loser, but he’s not leaning as hard on that point. Which is good, because he already wrote the best album he’s ever going to write about his once shitty life, and that album is called Godlovesugly. Thankfully, Slug’s moved on, and moving upward and onward is a theme he sums up on the title track quite nicely. Essentially: Yeah, I’m getting older, but as long as there are people to listen, I’ll keep spitting rhymes. He makes this point, wisely, at the end of the album after spending the previous nine tracks proving that he’s still relevant and capable of writing about more than a fucked-up childhood and heartbreak. The insult rhyme makes a prominent appearance here, including some fun rants about social networking and abortion doctor-murderers. Sometimes, when he lays off the self-deprecation, Slug even admits that he’s come out ahead: “The Loser Wins” is a furious, organ-heavy track about breaking up with a friend. It’s vitriolic, but it’s also catchy, because if anything’s remained consistently excellent about Atmosphere, it’s Ant’s unorthodox, game-changing beats.
Atmosphere, Blue Print, Grieves, Budo, DJ Rare Groove. 7 pm Wednesday, Sept. 22, McDonald Theatre. $23.50 adv., $26.50 door