Plenty of hip-hoppers know how to write about male-female relationships, but few cut as close to the bone as Minneapolis native Sean Daley, aka Slug, half of the duo Atmosphere. Take Lucy Ford
's "Don't Ever Fucking Question That," on which he proclaims, "I love you/Don't ever fucking question that/That's why we'll probably never get along/If I was better at finding the right words to say/I wouldn't need to write these motherfucking songs." Or "The Woman With the Tattooed Hands," a dream narrative in which the tattoos come to life and make love to the woman herself as Slug watches: "I didn't get turned on, I just got turned/I wasn't as aroused as I was concerned/For each one of 'em I've hurt every time I've been burned/I've got a lot to teach but even more to learn."
Sounding as much like Jeremy Enigk with a beatbox as a stepson of KRS-One or a cousin of Eminem, Slug worries a lot: "I need to start writing pieces about other people's problems/ Because the strangers are starting to get worried," he notes on "It Goes." But over the lazy funk samples of producer Ant, he also manages to sound jauntily confident -- contemplative and party-rocking at the same time. And despite Slug's predilection for soul-searching, he knows when to lighten up: On "Guns and Cigarettes," he brags, "I wanna be bigger than Jesus/And bigger than wrestling/Bigger than the Beatles/And bigger than breast implants."
Thing is, he's got the skills to make it happen.
-- MICHAELANGELO MATOS