As hip-hop’s artistic boundries have stretched over the years, a small crew from the twin cities have been consistantly bringing the unknown creative void at the border and more accessable underground rap as close together as possible. At the center of the Rhymesayers crew (as if you didn’t know), is a group called Atmosphere headed by a rapper named Slug, as good at talking shit in battles as he is at trading free-form non sequitors with Dose One. The fans come from both sides of the spectrum and Slug caters to each with everything Atmosphere puts out. With every Atmosphere release these days, I get a little nervous, wondering if Slug will back into some even more off the wall Anticon-style shit. The “Ford” 12″s were good, but there were definately strong, weird tinges in them that I wasn’t feeling so much; mostly the psychotic stylings of “Lost and Found” and “They’re All Going To Laugh At You,” both produced by Dose One’s man behind the boards, Jel. Plus, the cover art from “Lucy Ford” is some really weird painted shit with an American flag, a women with a skull for a head and this strange face with huge teeth. So the weirder Slug gets, the more I worry about how much weirder he’s going to get, and how far away he’ll get from very down to earth classics such as “Snuggle” and “Primer.”
The “Lucy” portion of the EP is a step in the right direction (as opposed to the “Ford” section, which is more or less the content on the singles released earlier this year). Slug drops gems like “Tears for the Sheep,” where he laments the boring, normal lifestyle most people in his city live, and the creepy “Aspiring Sociopath,” on a similar, more focused topic. “If I Was Santa Claus” is just classic, mopey Sluggo, while “Guns and Cigarettes” is some battle shit Slug hasn’t put down since “Overcast.” “It Goes” starts off with one of the wittier verses I’ve heard him drop, taking down his style of emo-hop at the kneecaps:
“I’ll bet my fans know me better than my friends do
because my friends don’t pay that much attention
the fans memorize every single sentence
which makes em far too smart to ever start a friendship
I need to start writing pieces about other people’s problems
cuz the strangers are starting to get worried
I’m in a hurry to try to slow the system down a bit
to find happiness before I hit 30″
But the upbeat tracks like “It Goes” seem very out of place with the otherwise extremely depressed vibe of “Lucy.” Even if Slug’s ego is huge on “Guns and Cigarettes,” he knocks himself the fuck out on the very next track with the self-indulgantly depressing “Don’t Ever Fucking Question That.” Plus, as a whole, “Lucy” is nowhere near as conceptually gripping when juxtaposed with the car theme found in “Ford” (although the transition through the commute-centered “Aspiring Sociopath” is ill). “Lucy” is just uneven, while “Ford” fortunately remains very tight.
One of the most notable things about this album is that Ant’s production has settled to where Atmosphere is getting a distinctive sound. I’m honestly not feeling the style of sped up treble-heavy loops, such as on “Don’t Ever Fucking Question That,” “It Goes” and “Like Today,” but there are some bangers here, no question. And the beats on “Ford” are still dope, especially “The Woman With the Tattooed Hands” and “Party for the Fight to Write.” “Lucy Ford” is ultimately a dope album, despite some inconsistancies, and worth checking out.