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Home » Lyricist Lounge

Atmosphere: When life gives you lemons

Submitted by on April 24, 2010 – 12:30 pmNo Comment

atmosphere_lemons

The downfall to living life as a story is playing the role of both protagonist and antagonist. Atmosphere’s frontman, Slug, became the character he created in his rhymes, and paid the price. Over the years, however, Slug says playing his own best friend and worst enemy has grown old. On Atmosphere’s latest record, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, he unfolds numerous narratives that don’t, necessarily, involve his personal experiences. Martyr’s Remi L. Roy recently caught up with the man himself to discuss the new album, sobriety and the pros and cons of rhyming about personal strengths and weaknesses.

RLR-Are you excited to be celebrating the re-release of God Loves Ugly? Do you feel you’ve come full circle, or are you still trying to find a balance?

Slug-I think that trying to find a balance kind of really meant trying not to drink so much. I didn’t know that’s what it meant at the time. Otherwise I probably would have made it a lot easier on myself. As far as full circle, I don’t know about that. I still feel like the path has been linear, but I’m not complaining about that. I don’t know if I could find myself back where I started, ever.

RLR-Are you still working hard to try and stay sober?

Slug-By no means am I sober.

RLR-What’s changed since God Loves Ugly? What’s stayed the same?

Slug-The work ethic has stayed the same, but the trinkets that I try to walk away from the job with have changed. I’m not trying to get wasted and bone somebody anymore, nor am I trying prove anything to anyone outside my audience. There was a time when I wanted to make other MCs respect me. And I think that kinda comes with the territory. Especially when you’re starting out, you’re kinda rapping for other rappers. Over time, I’ve gradually learned to not really give a fuck what other artists think.

RLR-“I wear my scars like the rings on a pimp/I live life like the captain of a sinking ship.” Pros and cons of wearing both strengths and weaknesses on your sleeve?

Slug-I don’t know of any cons. The pros are all in your face, which is I guess the point of having everything up front and obvious. I like people havin’ to figure out interpretations to the songs, but I don’t want people to feel like they have to interpret me as a person.

RLR-Do you feel that, despite your obvious accomplishments, you haven’t made a significant enough contribution to, and imprint on, hip-hop in particular and music in general?

Slug-I don’t know if I can really have an opinion on that. I don’t think it’s my place to even decide that.  That’s up to the mass conglomerate of people who love music to decide.

RLR-I was watching your Paint it Gold YouTube specials and you guys cut the part where you tell about your most rock star moment on stage. What was it?

Slug-It was stupid. I think I was gonna tell a story about one time I was on stage at Warped Tour and some guys from The Used threw a full can of beer at me, and it was open. We had just hit the chorus of the song as I reached up, caught the fucker right-side up and then slammed the beer just in time to jump right into the second verse. We had nothing to do with it. That was all the work of aliens or god, or whatever you believe in.

RLR-Atmosphere is lining up for almost 50 shows in three months. Two part question: Did you guys really play 60 shows in 71 days? Did you really drive from Minneapolis to Dallas to rock a set for $250?

Slug-Yeah, both. It felt like we did 82 shows in 71 days. That’s generally how we tour. We take Mondays off.

RLR-The worst part about living your life as a story is playing both protagonist and antagonist. Is it refreshing painting narratives that don’t involve you playing your own best friend, and worst enemy?

Slug-Well, truthfully, I’m still not 100 per cent sure what I’m doin’.  It made a lot of the songs on this record (When Life Gives you Lemons, Paint that Shit Gold) easier to perform live. I needed to try to alter what I was doing a little bit, but it didn’t feel like…some of the songs, they’re not as personal as people take them to be. I’ve been doin’ the fictional thing for a lot longer than anybody realizes. But when I was doing first person, after years of meeting people who think you’re supposed to be that guy on that record, I was becoming a caricature of myself because I was being pushed into that realm, by myself and the fans. It’s not healthy to be the guy that’s expected to drink tequila ’til he pukes.

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