Is it any wonder that today's biggest emo lyricists--Eminem, Anticon's Dose One and Atmosphere's Slug--began their careers as battle rappers? After all, the constant personal needling at the hands of opposing MCs had to make them acutely self-conscious of each and every one of their flaws. Headshots: Se7en compiles a series of Atmosphere's early, subindie releases, when, in Slug's own words, he was "an arrogant little fuck with a microphone and a notion that I was better at this than you were." The songs aren't always great: The production is oftentimes amateurish, and Slug's flow frequently runs through the beat. But for Atmosphere fanatics there is much to be gleaned here. For one thing, Slug was one hell of a battle rapper. And many of the themes that would later dominate the MC's lyrics--his bleeding-heart romanticism and subsequent vulnerability--are clearly being developed in these early tracks. In short, Headshots is a must for die-hard fans, a bore for the rest of you.
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Sam Chennault