Atmosphere - When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold
Atmosphere’s Godlovesugly is one of my favorite hip-hop albums ever. That album, among a few others, got me through some very trying times when my wife and I moved from the homes of our youth in Nebraska to the paradise of California. Needless to say, it got its share of spins and defined, for me, Atmosphere’s sound. So when they released You Can’t Believe How Much Fun We’re Having in 2005, I was initially disappointed. You Can’t Believe.. was more “produced” than I had grown accustomed to and the overall vibe of the album was pleasurable and entertaining, whereas I had become familiar with a more solitude and sorrowful Atmosphere. I eventually grew to love the album however and inevitably acknowledged another dimension of the twin city duo.
Now, with their latest album When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, Atmosphere pulls that all too similar identity shift again. But not only is When Life Gives You Lemons.. different from past Atmosphere albums, its different from any hip-hop album you’ve ever heard.
Let’s address the elements of the album that are familiar first. This is a definite return to intimacy and simplistic conveyance. Slug has always been very adept at putting himself in other people’s shoes as well as letting the listener walk around in his for awhile. This talent absolutely gleams on When Life Gives You Lemons.. We’re taken from an afternoon with his daughter in the car, to a homeless man in a restaurant and everything in between. “Your Glass House” is an eerily desolate tale of excess and the reality that we’re all somebody’s hooker is revealed in “The Skinny”. This album isn’t a typical compilation of barely meaningful songs, but a collection of short stories put to melody.
Past that the familiarity is blown apart, shattered as Atmosphere boosts past it at an alarming speed. So alarming and so far away that most of the new fans acquired with You Can’t Believe.. will likely be left behind before the album even begins. When the duo finally slam on the brakes and start marinating in that slowed state, even seasoned Atmosphere fans will have to understand that Slug and Ant have apparently decided that it’s time to elevate this thing called hip-hop.
And the learning curve is steep.
By the time you’re four seconds into the track “Puppets” you will understand that this is not at all what you expected, regardless of your prior Atmosphere experience. The intro track “Like the Rest of Us” will make you think that, like many intros, they’re just easing you into the monstrous hook that’s about to flip this album on its ass. But like I said, once that second track begins and you realize that your dance mix isn’t comin’, you’ll start to question the quality of this album. Reason being is that no one’s done it like this before. No rap group or single artist has boiled all the superfluous garnishment off of lyricism and given it to you in such a raw form, no artist from this era anyway. The current hip-hop age has evolved into overdubs upon overdubs and gargantuan beats. These will not be found on When Life Gives You Lemons.. What you will find in its stead is a live band providing just enough accompaniment to set the mood. Other than that, its Slug’s story time.
And all of hip-hop would do well to listen.
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on 2008-09-19 hstisgod Said:
Gave it 8.5, downgraded to 8.0 for lack of lyrical intensity as in past releases. Otherwise, this album is one my top of 08 list!!!
on 2008-07-03 kev_stev Said:
wheres your rating hstisgod?! i'm loving this album. thanks for the heads up, aaron!
on 2008-05-10 Macavennie Said:
Bought God Loves Ugly on the strength of above
Great Stuff! cheers
on 2008-04-28 hstisgod Said:
In the sense of the term Atmosphere fan, I have not checked out this album. In the sense of reviewer I have and Trismus hit the nail on the head...ANT and Slug, sorry Trisumus, Ant is the Doctor, Slus is the Anesthesiologist have taken the reigns of hip hops future once again.
Regardless...Trisums is profoundly right; You cant believe... as entertaining as it was, was not the Atmosphere formation and recordings were used to. Way over produced, and you can look to Epitaph's distro deal for blame there. Also, The four or five songs I've heard since they dropped last Tuesday will certainly turn Underground Hip Hop upside down and fans will be awaiting the change to fall out. HINT! Look for dollar bills... Hip Hop melody minced with acoustic vibe more than ever in his previous 5 LP's. I wont say this is his best effort yet, cause as a fan I have yet to give this release enough attention, but this album without a doubt will make most top ten lists by the end of the fiscal year. Rating unknown as of yet.
on 2008-04-25 dscanland Said:
Yo hstisgod, have you checked into this album yet? What are your thoughts? I'm gonna track it down this weekend.
on 2008-04-24 kev_stev Said:
Aweosome, awesome review, Aaron. I only listened to one Atmosphere song ("Trying to Find a Balance,") but I really dug it. I'm definitely track this one down now.