Atmosphere – Seven’s Travels

AtmosphereSeven’s Travels (Epitaph)

I fear for Slug. I really do. As frontman of the Minnesota rap collective known as Atmosphere, his emotionally fraught lyrics and sensitive-boy song topics first inspired people to tag him the “emo rapper.” Atmosphere’s 2001 release, God Loves Ugly, happened to include a song called “Saves The Day,” which prompted Slug (real name: Sean Daley) to joke in the press that he was going to call his next record “Built To Spill.” Instead, Atmosphere was signed to Epitaph and called their new record Seven’s Travels. Atmosphere has become the Next Big Thing. The spotlight prompted the press to begin comparisons to—you guessed it—Eminem, the other, ahem, white meat.

These comparisons are lazy but understandable, for several reasons. Seven’s Travels continues to explore Slug’s obsessions: his problems with women, his self-loathing, his need to prove himself as an emcee, etc. But the comparisons end (or should end) there; where Eminem’s philosophies hit the listener with the delicacy of a jackhammer, Slug’s lyrics and beats accomplish what the best rap albums do: shake ya ass and make ya think.

This is not to imply that the album is flawless. It relies a little too heavily on old tricks at times: the first half of “Suicidegirls” consists of angry (staged?) answering machine messages left by various women over a complicated beat, a gimmick which should have died with God Loves Ugly. At its best, though, it contains sly lyrics like “The Barbie doll’s caught, body parts come off / And I think she’s a he…STOP, look at how it walks / They got the weirdoes, the talent, the beautiful / An arm and a leg for a one-story cubicle” (“Los Angeles”). At its most naked, dirt-under-nails-and-all beauty, look to “Lifter Puller,” which starts with a mournful female hook and explands to tell the story of a doomed, possibly autobiographical, relationship: “Tonight the part of man and woman will be played by boy and girl.”

Slug and company have, unfortunately, a long road ahead of them if they wish to break out of the Shadow of Em. I doubt that pop culture has progressed to the point where it can accept more than one white rapper thriving at a time. This record proves, though, that Atmosphere deserves (and demands) your respect and attention.

11 thoughts on “Atmosphere – Seven’s Travels”

  1. It’s so sad that this piece relies so heavily on the Eminem comparison when Slug is not even “white”. But who cares? If your understanding of hip hop pivots on race or geography shut up.

  2. Hey Alotta, does the reviewer even mention geography? And like it or not, race has always been an issue in hip hop. But that doesn’t mean that the reviewer’s understanding of hip hop pivots on that one aspect.

  3. i just recently discovered atmosphere…a song that lyrics as where he comes from…MINNESOTA…mentions mankato and that is where i be found! but i don’t know the name of the song HELP ME!!! write me at [email protected]

  4. yo, ive been growin up to slug eversince his first spit of rymes, he deserves more credit than any mc out there, u can t compare atmosphere to Em. Ems a sell out, once u hear his flow, u aint gunna listen to anything else.

    Peace

  5. Hey, I think atmosphere is awesome, anyone who judges him based only on his race is not a true hip-hop player n e wayz, its never the race, place, or societies where the person grows up that makes him a true rapper, its his flow and real-ness in his rythmes. Eminem has his own style and how you could compare him to atmosphere should only be in the way he expresses himself in his songs, because you cant do it just off color, if that was the case then Jay-Z and Biggie are the same because they both spit about selling crack and living on the streets in New York, You just have to look at it from a different perspective and if you think other wise then you need to try and listen to a different style of music

  6. I just started to listen 2 atmosphere, but i have to say, he deserves alot of credit for his lyrical skills. I don’t give a f*** about his race, ‘cuz as long as he is keepin it real and keeps doin what he does and doesn’t turn mainstream like some other rappers (cough… 50cent) i’ll continue to listen 2 his songs and give him credit… ‘cuz he’s ill! WHITE BLACK RED YELLOW PINK BLUE OR WHATEVA COLOR, IT DONT MATTER! it’s time ppl stop about this ethnicity sh** and get back to the ONLY 4 hip hop elements! rap, dj-ing, grafitti, and breakin! Love to all true hip hoppers and peace!

  7. its a shame nobody knows that slug is half black half white:/ It doesnt even matter. If he would really concentrate on putting his lyrical skills to use enstead of keeping his shitty dj and record label. The beats for his tracks sound cool at first, but if you listen they are just a 2 second bit and repeated over and over again. Slug is great and i enjoy listening to atmosphere but he will never be like eminem

Leave a Reply