September 25, 2003

The Repeat Button: Atmosphere

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All beats by Ant. All raps by Slug, read the liner notes to the hip-hop masterpiece, God Loves Ugly. This duo of unlikely call names joined together in the entity known as Atmosphere to produce one of hip-hop’s most creative and unique releases of 2002. Slug’s lyrical adroitness, characterized by a fast-spitting, verbose flow, can either can be acerbic and insulting or painfully self-aware and emotive; he bares his tortured soul for the sake of his art regardless of how depraved, perverse, and tortured the result may be — this is exactly what makes his rhymes so appealing. The other half of Atmosphere, Ant, residing at the turntable helm, provides the rhythmic foundation for Slug’s lyrical madness. Generally, Ant strips production down to the quintessential, syncopated hip-hop drum and bass hits, splicing them in all different directions. Slug’s flow and Ant’s beats quickly fall into tight, deep groves.

“The Bass and The Movement,” is the classic diss track of the album. Built on top of Ant’s stripped down, bass-snare hits and handclap responses, the song wastes no time in getting down to business when Slug comes in with some fighting words. The MC battle is easily won with such lyrical prowess: “You should have stuck with the original plan to be a little man/ You should have kept it simple before the shit hit the fan/ Give the kid a nipple ’cause he sucks/ … You wanna treat it like a playground?/ Well, we could joke about your take down.” The song continues through more hilarious and outlandish insults, fueled by Ant’s dirty-funk cycle and Slug’s corrosive venom. At times, Slug can be found, voice at the edge of tears, lamenting his personal insecurities, but here, all weakness is masked by braggadocio and excessive over-confidence. This hard-edged fa