Published Apr 19, 2011Minnesota indie rap stalwarts Atmosphere have been recording for over a decade now, so it's only naturally they would be a bit jaded. And so it comes as no great surprise that MC Slug is disappointed with the new generation of underground rappers.
In an interview with Exclaim!, Slug explains the group's "Bad Bad Daddy," off the recently released The Family Sign, as representative of his views on the new school: "[It's] about looking at the other indie rappers that I literally gave birth to and being disappointed and embarrassed by them. I'm looking at kids coming up now and I'm like, 'My DNA is inside of you, you came out of my balls,' but in the same breath, be like, 'You fuckin' suck.'"
With that attitude in mind, Slug is aware that his age has changed his writing approach. "I can't make that song anymore because I'm 38 years old and how does that look, me being 38 shitting on a 20-year-old hungry rapper?" he says. "Or imagine me pointing at somebody and saying, 'Your shit's too emo!' [fakes laughter] I can't bring myself to do that seriously. So I come up with stuff like 'Bad Bad Daddy,' and think, that's great, I can totally write that song. And it still says the same shit, it's still an 'I'm better than you at this' song. But it's a little more to it than just me bragging."
Slug notes that there is precedent for his allegorical approach to writing: "We did that double EP last fall [To All My Friends, Blood Makes the Blade Holy] and there was a song on there called 'Hope.' It was another way to say, 'Hey rapper, you suck.' I guess I'm still looking for creative ways to tell rappers that they suck, I just don't want to go for the okey-doke anymore."
Slug accepts that his lyrics lend themselves to a multitude of interpretations. "I've taken it for granted that people won't always interpret things the way I meant them, and I'm okay with it. Because half the time, your interpretation of my shit is better than my interpretation. So fuck it, this is for you, you figure out what it is for you. I'm just happy people would take the time to try to interpret the shit.
"I don't want to be preachy, but I do want to express myself so I look for ways to do it in story so that it can be something else for somebody. They don't even have to know what I was feeling, that's not the point. It's like a painting. The problem is with rap, we want to take shit so literally. Period. We want everything to be so literal and easy to understand, but I guess I don't know how to be literal enough. When I do my version of rap, I do end up going for the metaphor instead."
Atmosphere's sixth album, The Family Sign, is out now through Rhymesayers. As previously reported, the group start their North American tour in Columbus, OH on Wednesday (April 20) and kick off the Canadian leg of their tour on May 10 in Vancouver at the Vogue Theatre. You can see all the dates here.