Smile Politely

Interview with Slug: Atmosphere “Painted That Sh*t Gold” at Canopy Club

A crisp fall evening seems all too perfect for a warm audience, and a scorching lineup of hip-hop’s best and brightest.

Rhymesayers’ “Paint the Nation” tour hit the Canopy Wednesday evening, in a smattering of off-kilter, boom-bap shades, complete with handshakes, laughs, and infectious head nods. Three of the label’s best, Abstract Rude, Blueprint, and Atmosphere, played out the true meaning of crowd motivators, playing from the old and new ends of their personal histories in hip-hop.

Click the jump to read more and hear the interview

From the starting pistol, a crowded stage played host to the vinyl melodies of DJ Rare Grooves, who put his soul into the hip-hop classics he blasted to the crowd, eventually playing as backbone to the legendary west-coast, Project Blowed member, Abstract Rude.

Abstract Rude’s quiet and humble delivery betrayed the energy he displayed, crooning to the crowd in shades of old and new, all while in a pair of light-up sunglasses, much to the crowd’s pleasure. Rude’s double-time schemes from his latest mixtape, Eyes Wide Shut, showed the versatility he learned from other Project Blowed members, such as Busdriver.

Following Abstract Rude was the battle-rap-tuned Blueprint, who last landed in Champaign last in 2004 as part of Soul Position, which featured Definitive Jux turntable magician RJD2 on the decks. Blueprint did not disappoint, nearly running through all of the tracks from his last album, 1988, as well as few from a forthcoming LP, Adventures in Counter Culture.

The room grew heavier and slightly more tense as Atmosphere’s band came out to tune up. The room erupted as the band was followed by the two core members of the group: Ant on the turntables, and the humble, soul-bearing Slug. The group ran through live covers of old and new favorites, as Slug dragged us through his own fears and personal inconsistencies, all set to the tune of a very talented band with a scotch-intellect brand of storytelling…minus the scotch, of course.

The receptive crowd crooned alongside Slug to some of the classic Atmosphere anthems, “God Loves Ugly,” “Woman With Tattooed Hands,” and didn’t lose a step on the new material from Atmosphere’s latest EPs, following the Minneapolis-born MC through every sharp turn they dared to take.

As the night drew to a close, Slug’s guitarist slammed into “Trying to Find a Balance,” sending the crowd into a hook-screaming frenzy, finally bringing the tone back down as Slug brought Abstract Rude and Blueprint on stage for a freestyle set to “Smart Went Crazy” from You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having.
As the main hall emptied, the legions of fans crowded around their microphone heroes, some sharing stories of when they last visited the cornfields, and others clamoring for autographs.

Slug threw back one last drink at the bar, signing autographs and more so thanking fans than accepting thanks from them.

Long live TRUE hip-hop.

Check out the full interview here:

Photo by Carlye Wisel>

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