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Atmosphere When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold

  • Words: Andy Hermann
  • Label: Rhymesayers
  • XLR8R Rating: 8/10

Minneapolis’ favorite hip-hop duo has been turning the lemons of Midwestern doldrums and rapper Slug’s relationship woes into hip-hop gold for over a decade, and they show no signs of slowing down here. Slug’s longtime foil, an everywoman called Lucy, has been replaced by a string of desperate women: broke waitresses (“You”), cocaine addicts (“Shoulda Known”), single moms (“Dreamer”), and lost party girls (“Your Glasshouse”). Their grim narratives unfold over alternately soulful and brittle arrangements by Atmosphere’s not-so-secret weapon, Anthony “Ant” Davis, who might be the most talented hip-hop producer this side of Danger Mouse. On tracks like the devastating opener, “Like the Rest of Us,” he does more with a reverb-laden piano than most studio rats can conjure with a million bucks' worth of synths and samples.

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