Fuck Slug (Atmosphere)

That is what I used to say years ago. We’ve all done it, right? Writing off a rapper before even giving them a shot. In hip-hop it’s way too easy (and fun) to discriminate, to the point it’s to be expected. This is how we sift out the insignificant, the insufficient and the imitators. While the light was dimming on the Golden Era, the indie tide starting rippling. Ever since hip-hop began, the indie movement has always been prevalent. But it wasn’t until the mid 90s where we suddenly witnessed the effects Al Gore had on us. When sites such as HipHopsite had us refreshing for their News On The DL or when Ed and his mother would take their lackadaisical approach at fulfilling our orders at Sandboxautomatic, we were married to the internet. Many groups came and went by ways of the internet. The outlet was not only substantial, but it allowed anyone with an ounce of aspiration to partake in our culture.

For many of us, we grew up in a distinguish era with a familiar sound. Not everybody could get us open like Black Moon. There is a difference in being observant and being tolerant. I knew what was talking place, I just had no interest in entertaining it. I came from a time where rappers looked a certain way, played a certain way and spoke a certain way. Call it complacent, I call it comfort.

Suddenly more and more rappers that didn’t fit that mold were overshadowing the music I grew up listening to. In the late 90s you had various chat rooms, whether it was AOL, Prodigy or the infamous IRC that helped contribute to many careers such as J-Live, Apathy, Living Legends, Mad Skillz or even Anticon. God I hated Anticon and for no real reason either. They looked funny. They all seemed effeminate, smug and more importantly eccentric just for the sake of being it. Maybe I did myself a disservice by never giving them a shot. Today I have absolutely no ill will towards them, I even think Jel is an exceptional producer (see below) and Sole is a good writer.

Still I refused to succumb to what I grew up on, what I expected the music to be. It wasn’t a white or black thing as much as I’m making it sound. I just had very little patience for what I believed to be contrived. When I look back at what I did accept at that time such as Non Phixion or Jedi Mind Tricks , I cringe when some of their music pops up in my iPOD.

Growth! That is what happened. I grew as a person, matured, became more impartial and less adversative. So what does this have to do with Slug? I’ll tell you–Slug is actually a throwback to the emcees I came up with. A rapper who has studied every Cold Chillin’ release ever in existence. In the late 90s you had many complex lyricists, it didn’t matter if you graduated DeVry or Dartmouth you just weren’t deciphering everything they were spitting.

Layered jargon, inexplicable multis and just perplex production. You had Aesop Rock, Company Flow, Dr. Octagon or Vakill to name a few favorites.

Then you had rappers with a more simplistic approach, not simple raps, an approach that was gratifying and allowed you to ride shot-gun while they did their storytelling. Slug is that rapper. He doesn’t receive enough credit for his writing ability but if you delve in to some of his work you’ll understand exactly what I’m saying. A throwback emcee who’s blueprint was mapped out by such rappers like Big Daddy Kane and G. Rap for fathering that style. This long winded diatribe isn’t so much about Slug than is about admitting your own mistakes, growing old and thinking twice before you quickly write-off the next emcee because of their association, race or residency. The Golden Era ain’t happening ever again, we need to turn the page and see what hip-hop has (or had) to offer that we may have missed.

Here are some tracks to get you “open.” Thanks for reading this slobfest rant, it was probably more cathartic than it was informative but I do hope some of you rediscover music you can now enjoy. –Philaflava

Atmosphere Tracks:

Road To The Riches

Little Man

Millie Fell Off The Fire Escape


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72 Responses to “Fuck Slug (Atmosphere)”

  1. Ryan Monk says:

    Nice. I ‘hated’ on Slug for half a decade. I think I even said at one time (for the sake of pissing off an entire message board full of Slug marks) that Manchild from Mars Ill was a better rapper than Slug. Hahaha.

    In the last few years, Slug became one of my favorite MCs of all time. Unfuckwittable catalog and a lot of songs that I can relate to personally.

    Am I the only one that thinks Atmosphere has gotten better with time? I love their later stuff over their earlier material.

  2. hl says:

    I always thought Slug was dope, and I don’t like Anticon at all. Not a fan of his music more recently. Production ha been kinda boring, but these joints you posted sound pretty soulful.

    I love both the albums he did with Murs. Especially the first one. “Hot Bars” and “Rick James” are two of my favorite songs.

  3. philaflava says:

    I am totally with you on the gotten better. Most people will say Lucy Ford blah blah blah. Listen, I’m an aging dinosaur and I don’t think everyone is at their prime when they debut. To me, Atmosphere got better with age. Atmosphere is like the Aerosmith of underground hip-hop. LOL.

  4. frank costa says:

    I’m with you all the way on this one.. totally dismissing artists and sticking with tradition and i too cringe at so much of what pops up on the ipod, non phixion, jedi minds haha so funny.. it’s so hard to get excited these days as there’s not much fresh to hip hop when you’re in the 30’s.. Life has more to offer else where and Slug put’s it to words so well – unfortunatley i feel a bit gay and pigeon holed when i listen to him 🙂

    Conclusion: Heaven Razah Renaissance, bronson shiraz and my own shit got me open.. that’s my story and i’m stickin to it.

  5. Rodone says:

    Overcast is my favorite…

    and check “Deep Puddle Dynamics” Slug’s album with Anticon (Sole, Alias & Dose One)…

    ‘I Am Hip Hop’ is the shit…

  6. Beneficial says:

    i still hate anticon but slug gets my respect

  7. rg says:

    anybody that listened to anticon is wack. pretentious bullshit

  8. Jeff says:

    Overcast is where it’s at — not really into the post-“God Loves Ugly” stuff. But those first three albums and the early Bad Dub stuff is great. I was the same way about Anticon too, but actually came around on the stuff involving Doseone. Otherwise, not really my thing.

    Good post.

  9. Spen1 says:

    I don’t know about all this. Sure, Slug ain’t bad. But he definitely isn’t as talented as all the indie heads make him out to be. Like when I hear some people sayin’ he’s one of the greats, can’t help but laugh. Lyrically/musically, Overcast is dope and I’d be lyin if I said I didn’t pump that disc over and over (Cuando limpia el humo=out of this world)… he does some good things with witty lines, referential to the past, while maintaining that he is his own dude.. I like that about him. I just feel like because he had the label backin’ him up, he blew up. also people weren’t tryin’ to hear the gangster shit no more in the late 90’s cuz of pac and big, they wanted something introspective and Slug delivered. so many of my favorite artists/groups from 88-96 got dropped from their respective labels and had to resort to shitty equipment afterwards, or stopped makin music at all. Slug had the bills to do it. I think. Dude’s talented, not the best… kinda tired of people painting him like that.

  10. Scribe says:

    Oddly, I was just writing about “Scapegoat” for an essay 5 minutes before I saw this post. Given the Atmosphere material released since 2005, I’d have to include Slug as one of the best, not just the pretty good rapper I used to consider him. The tracks above are not the best examples of his vocal and lyrical skills, and I’d suggest digging deeper into that catalog. He’s like a talented short-story writer, as some of his writing that seems simple and straightforward has a greater depth.

  11. the funky gynecologist says:

    the bitches love slug

  12. Jack says:

    i grew up on atmosphere and later found the golden age that occurred while i was in diapers. slug has charisma, depth, and talent both rapping and writing. plus he seems like a good dude. no wonder bitches love him!

  13. ted says:

    you were on the internet in the mid nineties?
    that’s some serious geek shit, no wonder you listened to jedi mind tricks.

  14. philaflava says:

    Ted you have angry bork written all over your post.


  15. Ok, check it out… Back in 1997 this guy I knew who worked at a record store I went to weekly was telling me about this new group he had heard that he liked…. It was Atmosphere. Anyways, he showed me the record, which was the Overcast EP… I bought it. When I got home I was eager to listen to it and when I dropped the needle, I kinda liked the beats, but the Emcees/Rappers sounded kinda corny to me… It was their voice! I had no clue Atmosphere was white and prior to that, I never had a problem with white emcees cuz most of the ones who had come out were good or not bad (MC Serch, Pete Nice, A.D.O.R., Milkbone, Tony D, etc.). What it was with their voice, and more specifically, Slug, was the fact they had this kinda nerdy whiteboy “twang” to their voice. That kinda voice was not Hiphop to me cuz I had been listening to Hiphop since ’84 and no one sounded nerdy. The Beastie Boys were goofy emcees, but I never thought they sounded nerdy.

    Now don’t get me wrong, Slug seems to be a very talented Emcee, not to mention a pretty nice (and funny) guy, but because of that corny voice with the nerdy twang to it, I just can never get into Atmosphere’s music. And I enjoy Ant’s beats! Oh well. And like Guru said… It’s Mostly Tha Voice! Word up.

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