I wear my scars like the rings on a pimp
Live my life like the captain of a sinking ship
Released June 2002, God Loves Ugly is Atmosphere's first original full-length album, continuing where 2000's Lucy Ford compilation left off.
Slug reaches new territory here. This album is emotionally raw, both aggressive and defensive. There are shades of typical hip-hop defensiveness, and now a sense that he's finally gotten our attention. But he's got as always plenty of doubt and frustration. His style is decidedly distant from the mainstream bling bling, but if you label him 'the emo rapper' you're missing the point. Slug is "making it safe to rap about love again" but he isn't Modest Mouse over a beatbox. He's much more real than those big rappers. He doesn't spin fantasies about money and hos, he tries to sum up the courage to describe how it really is, and goes from there.
The beats on this album are provided by Ant, aka Minneapolis producer Anthony Davis. Overall, excellent and varied, but within some songs it can feel a bit too plain. Maybe it's to make space for the lyrics; that's where the album shines.
He raps eloquently about where pain meets love (say Lucy Ford five times fast and you get the idea) and above all hope. Because God Loves Ugly.
Tracks to check out include The Modern Man's Hustle, which was CMJ's number one single for for several weeks. This album is more aggressive than his past work, and Flesh and The Bass and the Movement prove Slug is still a badass. Saves the day, Vampires, and F*@k You Lucy are just amazing.
A few weeks ago I was privileged to see the last performance of the 62-show God Loves Ugly tour at First Ave. in Minneapolis. A lengthy show, I came in as Brother Ali was partway through. DJ Dibbs was at the turntables as Slug got ready. then Blueprint, one half of new Rhymesayers group Soul Position started getting the crowd ready with the Modern Man's Hustle. Sadly, Murs dropped out of the tour a few weeks ago.
Then Slug slid onto stage, rockin a couple 40s. The show was a great mixture of old and new. Throughout the evening a guy worked on making a painting at the side of the stage, using spraypaint, and at one point throwing flame onto the canvas with a lighter. They also took polaroids and tossed them into the crowd. There was a bit of moshing and Slug took a dive into the crowd.
Slug asked if he'd missed anything while he'd been away for the past two and half months. The crowd murmured. And then he asked, "What about the murder of Paul Wellstone?"
This spring we'll be treated to a new album, Seven's Travels, from the same recording sessions as God Loves Ugly. As Slug explained to in a Maxim interview:
"We recorded about 45 songs, and I picked the more aggressive-themed ones for God Loves Ugly," Slug explains. "I ended up left with all these fuckin’ happy songs. Seven’s Travels is going to be my De La (Soul) record. De La before they got pissed off, by the way. Not the hippie De La, the happy-to-smoke-a-joint-and-get-a-blow-job De La."
One question you might get with this album involves the between-song segments, which mostly involve anger or calling Slug "fucking ugly." Are they real? In that interview he claims they are, but I'm not sure because he doesn't trust the media
, and has been known to spout bullshit
now and then.
"I tend to tape arguments," Slug admits. "Those (voices) are women that are mad at me for one reason or another. I even record sex sometimes, on a Dictaphone. I love my Dictaphone. It’s like my spy. I’m probably going to go to hell for some of the shit that I’ve recorded, but, hey, whatever."
<<-- | God Loves Ugly | Onemosphere >>
- Onemosphere -- 2:17
- The Bass and the Movement - 4:02
- Give Me -- 4:00
- F*@k You Lucy -- 5:31
- Hair -- 3:21
- Godlovesugly -- 3:50
- A Song About a Friend -- 4:26
- Flesh (I Self Divine) - 4:07
- Saves the Day -- 3:42
- Lovelife -- 3:33
- Breathing -- 3:00
- Vampires -- 4:17
- A Girl Named Hope -- 2:07
- Godlovesugly Reprise -- 1:47
- Modern Man's Hustle -- 3:45
- One of a Kind -- 3:28
- Blamegame -- 4:47
- Shrapnel -- 6:53
Rhymesayers press release: http://students.washington.edu/theshow/atmospress.htm