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Atmosphere - When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Sh*t Gold

Released on Rhymesayers Entertainment, 4/22/08

Is it possible for an indie hip hop band to go platinum? Atmosphere has proved it by selling millions of units and selling out at medium sized venues and they are anything but mediocre. Atmosphere is made up of a beat master named "Ant" and a rhyme-slayer named, "Slug". This mean emo-rap duo is out of Minneapolis and has such a huge underground following bubbling up in the mainstream that all we’re talking about is indie hip hop.

Having six albums between them in the last eleven years, this time they give us When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Sh*t Gold. And while there’s nothing lemony about this album, it is most definitely golden. Ant’s gritty beats are frosted with a heavy whack of R & B while infectious groove clasps Slug’s introspective society raps. The lyrics spin addictive stories of the fabric of life, inner-city-happenstance, taking chances, the flush of might and that’s just a mini-layer of this musical onion.

There are a few tracks worthy of naming…"Like The Rest Of Us" rushes a calm-cool-lounge feel with a gentle short riff from the guitar that swings hands with a piano. Short of being preachy, Slug’s unapologetic lyrics are cemented in absolutes. Slug talks about getting older, looking into a dirty mirror and chemical escapism. "Shoulda Known" drops down hard with a dripping wet bass line as Slug raps about getting with a Goth girl and pumping chemicals through the veins for a night "Yesterday" could have been easily mistaken for a song about an old friend or old love but it was about his father who passed away.

Slug’s tango with words captures the relationship of a regular customer who’s down on his luck and the waitress in the diner who doesn’t even know the difference she’s making in his life with a fake smile, which to him acknowledges his existence. "The Waitress" is a unique tune that looks deeper into such an everyday scenario. "In Her Music Box" takes a glimpse at a little girl in the backseat of her pimp-daddy’s car and she’s being nourished on fast food, surrounded by favorite things (Elmo, Barbie, her purple security blanket) while absorbing explicit lyrics out of the car speakers. It touches upon how with mindless parenting the impressionable child will rear what society fears for them.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Sh*t Gold may inspire a deeper listen than what ghetto rap has to offer. Atmosphere is intelligent poetic justice and dons complexity simply like gold.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars