Review Summary: Atmosphere puts Minnesota on the map with one of the most original Hip-Hop album in years. GodLovesUgly is hardly their first album, but it is easily their best and most inspired.
Sorry about the length, but this album has a lot of personal meaning to me. Enjoy.
When I was a teenager I was all about Metal. In Flames
, you name it, it was the only music I felt I could connect to. I suppose it was that cliche amount of teenage angst, or maybe it was something else, but as long as it was metal, I loved it. During those years I refused to listen to anything else; Hip-Hop" Rap" Techno" No thanks. But one day at work I heard an album being played, and I started to listen, and loved it. The songs were almost painfully deep, the beats were intense, and overall the experience was incredible. The album was GodLovesUgly by Atmosphere
Since then I've learned to love Atmosphere
as well as respect them as one of (if not the) best artists in the game. I've purchased almost all of their CD's (Yes, I actually bought them, with money!) and seen them once in concert this past year. I've listened to everything Atmosphere
has ever made, and even though I love it all, GodLovesUgly is still my hands-down favorite. The depth it has combined with its intensity cannot be undone.
GodLovesUgly is a hybrid of Hip-Hop that combines the aggression and excitement of Rock music with the flow of more traditional Hip-Hop music. Ant mixes beats that are both complex and unique, probably his best work to date. Not to be outdone Slug pulls out some of the best lines of his career. Throughout the entire album his flow is on fire, and he doesn't let off once.
Atmosphere and maybe you don't like us
But of all the stars in the sky believe we're one of the brightest
My life is as trite as your favorite rap record
And I'm posessed with that insight that enables me to laugh better
From the last letter back to the A come around my way
Out of the wrapping paper with out the ***ing holiday
The song starts out with a sample of some children in a mocking tone saying "You're so Ugly, You're so Ugly", and quickly leads into an onslaught of Slug introducing you into his world that is filled with frustration and self-loathing. It's a testament to Atmosphere's unwillingness to change to please the people around them. 5 / 5
2. The Bass and The Movement
And to the people that don't feel us: *** em'
Don't need em', can't see em', never leave em', never loved em'
This song as with a lot of Atmosphere songs starts out with a dated sample and leads into Slug ripping into the everyday mediocre emcees that he's used to being associated with at rap battles and rap shows. The song is a flurry of lanes that prove exactly how much of a lyricist he really is, and that he's not some cheap imitation to be taken lightly. 5 / 5
3. Give Me
You got no balance, combined with no talent
Disgraceful, you can catch a face full of phallus
Color me callused on a retribution tangent
How'd the love die!" How'd the hell you lose the magic"
I'm a slow typer, a so-so writer
Been the *** ever since I was an infant in diapers
And Imma be dope all the way to the end
From the cradle to the grave, the pampers to the depends
A song dedicated to the constant grind Slug has experienced throughout his life. The part of this song that really hooks me is the beat. It's very simple, but it is mesmerizing. Ant does a great job of complimenting Slugs sound. Although this song is not necessarily longer than the rest of them, it has a lot more lyrical content than the other tracks. But at no point does it get repetitive. 5 / 5
4. **** You Lucy
Ever since I was a young lad
With a part time dad
It was hard to find happiness inside of what I had
I studied my mother
I digested her pain
And vowed no woman on my path would have to walk the same
As any fan of Atmosphere will tell you, Slug wrote a LOT of songs referencing someone named Lucy, who was presumably the manifestation of his ex-wife. This song is one of the best on the album, it uses a series of metaphors to explain the history of Slug and exactly why he is what he is. The biggest selling point of this track is the anger in Slugs voice, almost hindering at sadness in certain points. 5 / 5
Do I sound mad"
Well I guess i'm a little pissed
Every action has a point
Five points make a fist
Lyndale ave. on the way to the her rest
Her drunk ass turns to look at me and she says
You're so beautiful from the hair to the soles
I know, can't believe that I never met you before
Feels like I've been waiting for you me whole life
She missed the red light, we hit a pick-up truck and we both DIED
Hair starts out with a dialogue between Slug and a female fan. It's sole purpose is to display that Slug isn't after women strictly for the free sex, he demands more from relationships. The entire song dictates an interaction between him and a woman he meets at the bar after one of his shows. The woman happens to be as snide and quick as Slug himself, which naturally fascinates him. The entire song is built up to be this great interaction where he meets the potential woman of his dream before ending abruptly with the death of both them. 5 / 5
Atmosphere, it's just a ten letter word
Discretion is the name of my cement-feathered bird
And if you didn't hear, *** whatever's heard
I think you got the sickness i suggest you get it cured
The epic title track. This track is the highlight of the entire album. It begins with a short sound clip of a woman yelling to her friend, after a few lines she reveals she's waiting for Slug, and that she loves him, to which she hears; "Oh my god, he is so ***ing ugly." Halfway through their dialogue the beat kicks in which is a combination of an old-fashioned piano mixed with a modern synthesizer. He essentially draws lines to show that even if people don't, god loves those that are considered ugly. Through all the metaphors he starts to force people to question what exactly being "ugly" means. 5 / 5
7. A Song About A Friend
Reality is just too much to bear with
Paranoid, walkin around careless
No wonder you're in love with your therapist
Go to sleep my little time bomb
Somehow forgot my name (Somehow forgot my name)
Blew out the flame (She blew out the flame)
A means to an end (A means to an end)
Can't even be friends, it's a song about a friend
Another song that begins with dialogue between Slug and a woman, which leads to him questioning "What do you mean freak"" The entire song has a certain feel of mystique, beginning with Slug chanting "Who's this one about"" throughout the intro, and enforced by the very eerie sounding beat. The beat is another example of Ant's ability to capture the feeling of the song in the beat alone. The entire song dictates a vague interaction between Slug and a woman who's skirt he can see up. The song is great, as are all of them on the album, but in comparison it's only so-so. 4.5 / 5
Flesh is a song written by fellow emcee I Self Divine. It's somewhat of a variation in style but none-the-less a good track. As with A Song About A Friend though, it's just not as touching and in-depth as the rest of the album. 4 / 5
9. Saves The Day
Since no one knows, where the hell we gonna go
I'm a stand right here until the end of the show
I'm a clap my hands, so don't pass the chance
To unsnap my pants, get on my lap and dance
No longer am I mad about the things I don't have
All I'm living for is love and laughs
I can't place exactly what direction this song is heading in. I suppose many could say that's it's flaw, but I think of that as the songs biggest plus. It forces you to think about it, wondering continuously what point he's trying to establish. The song concludes with another dialogue involving a woman basically chewing Slug out for treating her like crap and saying that he acts "so ***ing ugly." 4.5 / 5
And when the soul begins to reap, I think she'll know me from the sleep
I keep caught in the corner of my bloodshot eyes
And if she has the nerve, to let me dump a couple last words
I'm gonna turn to the earth and scream "Love your life!"
This song could be interpreted different ways, each time I listen to it, depending on my own personal mood, it seems to represent something else. The song has a rather generic bass-heavy beat but also has samples of rain and thunderstorms thrown into the background to add depth. The song doesn't necessarily sound sad, but it's very interesting because of how it flirts with fear, sadness, and uncertainty. 4.5 / 5
At this point it should be quite apparent that this album is not only filed with emotion, but it is also very personal. Prior to this album I had never heard an album that was built solely around personal feelings and presented so beautifully. Sure, rappers have often built albums around experiences, but rarely do they show their vulnerable human sides. Eminem
enlightened the world by showing them his dark birthplace, but only in the context of anger and how it made him stronger. Slug does the exact opposite, building on how his experiences have almost crippled him. It's important that while listening to the album you realize this.
Been in this cage for a long time (long time)
Been coverin this page with the wrong rhymes (wrong rhymes)
Got a strong mind, I got a weak will
I've got bad nerves and I can't keep still
One of the shorter songs on the album, this is probably one of my least favorite. It's very repetitive and feels like it just drags on, even though it's only 3:00. The one selling point for this track is the lyrical content. Although the chorus is very stale, the actual lines that Slug throws out there are very good, and salvage this song from being entirely mediocre to being just a sub par song on a great album. 3.5 / 5
Will the hunger disappear, metabolism slow, world domination is the goal
Now let's gather the kids, and take em out to the styx, teach em all how to live
Come, take my hand and walk with me, before the vampires lock down the twin cities
Ant seems to fade in and out from being incredible to being just average, this song is an example of his originality at play. The beat for this song is very unique to say the least. Slug may be a little weaker on this track, but it's balanced out nicely when Ant can keep him afloat. The song explains (obviously) how the world is a Vampire, and drains the life from people accordingly. Overall it's hardly a bad song, but not as enjoyable as certain tracks. 4.5 / 5
13. A Girl Named Hope
A surprisingly short song which echoes the sound and feeling of earlier songs on the album. This song also has an eerie beat with a sample of a woman moaning in the background. It also has a very rustic sounding sample thrown into the middle for effect. The entire song is enjoyable, but has no outstanding qualities. The beat is nice, the lyrics are nice, but nothing overly impressive. I suppose the songs around this point in the album (11 - 14) are the only somewhat disappointing point in the entire album, but all the tracks leading up to and preceding these are exceptional to say the least. 4 / 5
14. GodLovesUgly Reprise
To be 100% honest this track is kind of confusing. It has almost no purpose and is just kind of thrown in there for no apparent reason. As I mentioned tracks 11 through 14 are iffy on all levels, and this song is the real testament to that. The only really interesting part to this track is the beat. Ant throws in a lot of confusing sound effects that catch your attention and really stand out, but they don't do it enough to make the track enjoyable. 3 / 5
15. Modern Man's Hustle
Hush little lady don't say a word
All the rest of the village gonna know your disturbed
And if you let em know that your vulnerable
Then there aint no stoppin (high) before they open you slow
I'm a chapter in you text book
Read me like a check book
Mistook love at first sight for a sex look
This is where the album really picks up for its finale. From this point on the album is nothing but incredible. The introductory part about meeting the devil is repeated on another album by Atmosphere but under different context (he changes to be about himself rather than the woman he's meeting). This song really has it all; It's catchy, has a nice hook, and as usual Slug's rhymes are powerful and unique. 5 / 5
16. One of a Kind
The way she listen to what the mc said
She might as well plug the RCA cords into her head
Taking that into consideration at the center of creation
Cats still criticize my frustration raps
The intro to this song is really the best part, it's a sound clip from a club where he is talking about why he is special, saying that it's because he respects his audience, then someone from the crow shouts something which leads to him screaming "SHUT THE *** UP". Other than that the song is still amazing. The song goes on to talk about the things that make Atmosphere the most unique and original group out there, and believe me they are.
It goes, one little, two little, three little indie rap
Headphones, backpacks watch em' all piggyback
Switch up my styles, they all complain
But see which kids next year sound the same as me"
Atmosphere more than anyone else had to struggle because of their (then) unique sound (dubbed Indie-Rap). Even though these days there are dozens of artists that are similar, when they were originally working their way up they were met with harsh criticism.
I still say *** a major label till it limps,
Put your deal up our table and we'll show you who's the pimp.
There is no sympathy for the careless,
*** the extra credit and *** the demerits.
To this day Atmosphere, even after gaining vast popularity, has not signed to a major label. They remain on their own independent label (Rhymesayers) along with Brother Ali
, Mac Lethal
, and other underground artists. This song is somewhat of a culmination of the frustration that Atmosphere met on their rise to fame. And the entire song flows beautifully. 5 / 5
Beat the point dead until these folks hear me clearly
Keep it all simple, a simplistic intricate
Rebuild the robots with bigger tits and little fists
This song is very confusing at first. It has an almost, faux-reggae beat that Ant added his own touch to. On top of that, Slug goes through the chorus trying to actually sing, or at least meeting his rapping halfway there. The most shocking part is how well it all comes together. The song sounds fantastic, it was probably a long shot on their part, but it definitely worked for them, and stands as an example of their versatility. 5 / 5
Work for food, rent, sex, money, or water
I don't know what else that you have to offer
Your first born daughter" No need, already got her
She came to the set hungry and left hot and bothered
My posse's full of women, computer nerds, and thugs
Much to my dismay, I'm none of the above.
For the longest time this was my favorite Atmosphere song. The beat is mesmerizing and entrancing, it sucks you in, but not to the point where you lose track of what Slug is rapping, which is the best part. Slug spits this entire song with the best flow I've ever heard on his part. The song is very long by most standards (almost 7 minutes) including a part in the middle that has a lot of strange sound effects mixed in, but it's Ant's real shining moment, where he's allowed to run free and does he ever tear it up. He unleashes a haunting segment with sound clips varying from Indian chanting to woman breathing sensually. The song goes for a solid 3 minutes with Slug doing nothing but repeating the chorus, and the song concludes with an obscure reversed recording which says simply "I am not Ugly." 5 / 5
GodLovesUgly stands for a lot of things, it's Slugs most personal album, Ant's most technical, and the foundation for a growing movement of Hip-Hop coming straight out of Minnesota. Sure, the place that brought you Prince may not seem like a Hip-Hop hotbed, but with the growing amount of talent in the reason, it is just that. Whether or not you are a fan of Hip-Hop, I feel GodLovesUgly will do a lot to change the way you think about it.