Slugging It Out

Atmosphere's MC Slug speaks to everyone by talking about himself

For the past decade, Slug's reality amounts to working his skinny little ass off. Besides serving as co-CEO of the Rhyme Sayers operation, he tours almost constantly. This particular run, typical for him, crams 62 performances into a grueling 72 days--small wonder that Atmosphere is widely hailed as hip-hop's best live group. It's quite possibly Slug's work ethic, as much as his idiosyncratic genius, that accounts for his cult following, a theory he's all too willing to embrace. "I'm not gonna pretend like I'm the coolest thing in the world," he says. "I'm not gonna pretend like I'm here because I deserve to be here or it's my right or because I'm talented. I'm here strictly because I just kept doing it, and eventually people got so sick of hearing me bang on the door that they opened it. I'm under no illusion that I make incredible music."

Whether such remarks stem from low self-esteem or false modesty, whether they represent an honest assessment or a pre-emptive strike--well, that's anyone's guess. Slug may not know himself. Whatever the case, it's a refreshing alternative to the mindless fronting that typifies so much mainstream rap and the equally mindless positivity of the underground. By relentlessly cataloging his shortcomings, he's struck a nerve in a scene that's obviously ready for real-life heroes with real-life flaws. God may not love ugly, but the people sure do.

Ugly or ladies' man? Underground or successful? Will the real MC Slug please stand up?
Ugly or ladies' man? Underground or successful? Will the real MC Slug please stand up?

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