Worshipped as gods of super-white genius rap with the release of The Overcast, Atmosphere’s direction has taken a slightly different turn with the release of its Lucy Ford LP.
While several years have passed since The Overcast loomed over listener’s heads, in that time, Atmosphere’s lead emcee, Slug, has taken things to a much more experimental level with Lucy Ford. While Overcast seemed to focus on a head concerned mostly with the state and preservation of hip-hop culture, Lucy Ford reaches inside that head, and attempts to figure out what makes it tick.
No longer are Slug’s concerns simply who is or isn’t true to this art form. Most likely coming with age and maturity, Slug opens up deeper than ever on tracks like the woefully penned love song, “Don’t Ever Fucking Question That”, or explaining his Midwest upbringing on “Nothing But Sunshine”, (which strangely enough leads up to killing cattle).
Still, we are blessed with a level of sarcasm not found in most emcees, best executed on the bluesy “Guns And Cigarettes” (“I want to be bigger than Jesus / bigger the wrestling / bigger than The Beatles / bigger than breast implants”). But this same sense of sarcasm can often get lost in what sometimes seem like the ramblings of an alcoholic. Tracks like “It Goes” and “Like Today” are certainly sprinkled with profound little antic dotes, yet are so scatterbrained in nature that they ultimately lead to nowhere - or maybe those of us not as smart as Slug just don’t get it.
And the deeper things get, the quicker the casual listener feels exiled from the club. Trying to figure out the meanings of “Mama Had A Baby And His Head Popped Off” and “The Woman With Tattooed Hands” is more strenuous than entertaining. Sure, “imagine waking up to the fact that you’re simply entertainment”, but what does it all mean?
Nevertheless, while the raw boom-bap elements of The Overcast aren’t as blatantly present on Lucy Ford, Slug certainly is creating his own brand of hip-hop music here, and nothing can be taken away from that. This is without a doubt some of the most original (and still listenable) hip-hop music around, and for the most part the production is solid. His love for the culture is still expressed, lyrically best on “Party For The Fight To Write” and sonically best on “Homecoming” (w/ El-P). While the alienation of those slightly outside of middle America may be an issue, the younger, hungrier fans will eat this one up, searching for its meaning.
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