I remember when Slug was only this big. He used to visit Boston with his brother, Eyedea, and they would run around onstage, freestyling all night long. Then he got a bit older, and he started writing songs that made guys like me look like insensitive pricks. I can't believe he's all grown up now; it seems like it was only yesterday when he ran off with my girlfriend.
Losing someone to a man like Slug isn't so awful. He's an admitted sweetheart, a veteran battle rapper and the owner of Rhymesayers Entertainment. He's so cool that he helped light skin, love songs and the state of Minnesota get props in the rap community. I do worship his music; but I also like knowing that in the future, he'll have fewer opportunities to snatch my honeydips.
"As I get older and older, you're gonna see less live acts," he says. "I'm gonna keep doing this, but I reached a point where I realize this is not all about Slug. These kids are not here because I have the answers to their problems or because I have the key to their identity crises. When it comes down to it, I'm just an excuse for them to congregate."
Slug might be one of hip-hop's smartest MCs, and his producer, Ant, might have a Taliban supply of raw dope, but that doesn't mean they need to tour every time a new Atmosphere album drops.
"I think I'll slowly become the Sammy Davis Jr. of hip-hop and get a Vegas gig -- so you can see Atmosphere, but only on $99 retreats that you get on Priceline," he says.
He claims romance is not his intention, even though his tour schedule could double as a field guide for an infinite pursuit of college ass.
"It always gets pegged back to the relationship thing," he says. "It's not like I've ever made a record that was 50 percent about shit like that, it's just that those are the only songs that people ever liked. I've got songs about how good of a rapper I am -- it's just that nobody cared."
You're damn right nobody cared. Except for "Scapegoat" -- now that was a dope track. And come to think of it, most of the hard joints on Atmosphere's new album are fire. But that title, You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having, is just ridiculous. I mean, Slug's not a happy guy.
"When I speak on relationships I'm never like, 'Oh, my life sucks,'" he says. "I'm painting a story the way I see it. I'm not saying life is great, either. I'm saying life is life. Whether that means you go from bad relationship to bad relationship or you're the kind of guy who gets pissed off if somebody gets your brand new Nikes all dirty--we're all gonna carry just enough weight to not break our backs."
As insulting as I found his comparing my first love to a pair of sneakers, I tried keeping the focus on Slug. What does he listen to when he's sobbing over old flames? How could he break hearts when he knows what it's like to have his broken? And how does he feel about having a career based solely on seducing women?
"Some of the shit I've had to deal with on this pseudo-quasi-fame bullshit has already got me on the brink of a nervous breakdown, so I'll accept whatever comes naturally from me just busting my ass," he says. "I always wanted to be LL Cool J from Bigger and Deffer, not LL Cool J from the WB."
-- Chris Faraone
Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson St., Denver
Thursday, Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $25; visit fillmoreauditorium.com.