“When Life Hands You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold”
“Can’t Break,” “Me,” “Puppets”
Slug/Sean Daley has two sides: the poet and the hustler. The latter is less believable than the first. On “When Life ... ,” Daley is at his best when he’s not trying so damn hard to come off so damn hard.
The album starts off unassuming and dare I say comfortable and at first unlike anything Atmosphere has done before. It’s a little bit gospel by a sinner and it comes off smooth. After the disappointing “You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having,” it’s a breath of fresh air.
Is the forced nature of the last album what makes this album so much better? It never hurts to come back with an amazing record after lowering the bar.
A lot of the beats are, for lack of a better word, atmospheric. They dance around in the background on stand out tracks like “Puppets,” songs that are smooth and effortlessThese songs are not what Atmosphere is known for. Daley usually snarls his rhymes like a hip-hop Zach de la Rocha and if I didn’t know any better Sean Daley found God or at the very least overdosed or got in a motorcycle accident. There’s a lot more sadness and a lot less cockiness and anger, a lot less focus on getting laid (although there’s still a lot of that).
The songs are soulful and represent Daley’s best work since “God Loves Ugly.” Better than that, it might just represent his best work period. It’s neither pretentious nor steeped in adolescent whining that sometimes plagued Atmosphere in the past. Daley falters into some of those patterns in “Your Glasshouse.”
While many hip-hop albums get monotonous, there is a lot of variety here. But not in a way that makes it un-listenable.
With all of this Slug/Daley talk it’s easy to forget Ant, and Ant really does make this album good. The technician/producer/beat master of the group, Ant makes every song flow like wine. The production feels natural and not like it was made in a lab like other hip-hop records.
While the album falters at points, it is still quality. There is a suspension of disbelief when it comes to listening to Atmosphere. A lot of the problems rapped about you’ve solved by 22, like don’t mix beer with wine, clean up your room and don’t drive on the train track.