In the days of Kings and Queens I was a jester
Treat me like a God, oh they treat me like a leper
You see me move back and forth between both
I'm trying to find a balance
I'm trying to build a balance
--Slug, "Trying to Find a Balance"
The leader of progressive rap band Atmosphere, one of the most famous 'underground rap' groups in business. It is Slug, pseudonym for one Sean Daley, who provides the flavorful poetry and pension for introspection that pervades his crew and gives him some measure of fame in the realm of hip-hop and rap.
Sean, unlike most of his fellow rap artists, has kept his early life (his roots) to himself. His choice has been to thrive and focus on the intricacies of his adult life - the effects and aspects of love, the danger of losing focus, various moments of self-doubt and so on and so forth have been the subjects of his insightful and singularly beautiful poetry. It is his ability to examine the important aspects of human triviality that makes Slug the remarkable artist that he is.
In the early years of his success, Sean Daley, a half-white half-black native born citizen of the United States, was constantly worried about his natural lyrical talent as it related to his "lack of melanin." Slug began to fear that his messages were being clouded by the race issue and that his insights were being forgotten amongst the natural controversy there in. After meeting with close friend Anthony Davis (Ant) and DJ Mr. Dibbs, Slug decided to ignore his doubts and put out some of the most original and intriguing rap music of the past twenty years. The first step was a band called Rhymesayers which released a half dozen forgettable songs a year, though forgettable in the way that only greatness is forgettable. Somewhere along the way (right about 1996), the three main contributors to Rhymesayers decided to create Atmosphere.
Rhymesayers, though innovative, was not successful. Atmosphere, the underground rap creature birthed from Slug's peculiar band of poetry and the low-key stylings of Ant (now his producer), has been, and recently put out its fourth and most innovative album, "Seven's Travels" (2003). With physical, gloomy, funny, and entirely brilliant raps, Slug woos his listeners with a character that is simultaneously the embodiment of the romantic, playboy and philosopher archetypes all the while maintaining and indulging in the lesser and baser (dare I say gangster?) aspects of human (and hip-hop) life. The world of hip-hop has not and probably will not see anything like Atmosphere or Slug for many years.
Before becoming great with "Seven's Travels," Slug and Atmosphere managed to put out a number of significant albums such as "Overcast!,"(1998) "Sad Clown Bad Dub II,"(2000) "Lucy Ford,"(2001) "God Loves Ugly" (2002) and "Modern Man Hustle," (2002) the last of which bears a more strict resemblance to the Backstreet Boys than Deltron 3030.
Sean Daley's future is difficult to predict. It seems unlikely that at his age, thirty-two, he'll suddenly don some golden chains and follow in the footsteps of so many big name rappers, falling into the depths of that horrible gangster and consumerism that so many young poets and the rap listening public so adore. But his particular nitche is starting to lose a little of its glamour. As he becomes more famous (thank you, internet!), Daley is going to fource himself into a couple of creative corners over the next few years. Up to this point, Slug's come through when he had to (save "Modern Man Hustle")and I am confident that he'll have something to surprise us with before too long.
To wrap things up, I've decided to transcribe here a short anecdote about Slug which I like a lot.
Mr. Daley, you see, has a problem with groupies giving themselves away to band leaders, famous actors, daredevils or whatever. He doesn't feel that it's right to have sex with women who want you for nothing other than your money or fame. So, instead of sleeping with the multitude of attractive women who demand entry into his various trailers and dressing chambers, he simply asks that they read to him until he falls asleep and asks that they dog ear the page they finish at, because someone will be reading for them tomorrow.
Many patrons respond to his requests with anger and denial. They want to think that reading to a genius is less important than having sex with him. His point is that while he has plenty of sex with his steady girlfriend, he just can't find time to read with all the travel that musicianing entails. Maybe all that means he's an asshole, but I find it marvelous.