Atmosphere – When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (2008)

Atmosphere is an abstract hip hop and rap group that consists of Sean Daley (a.k.a. “Slug”) and is produced by Anthony Davis, (a.k.a. “Ant”). The whole album is about making the best out of what you have, hence the variation of the saying “When life gives you lemons…” Each song is a story about somebody in a rough situation and the ways that they cope. The tracks are nicely done and the stories are told well through rapped verses and sung choruses. That being said, I do wish there was some variation in the story content.

While there are common motifs of life in lower-class America and botched relationships (romantic or otherwise), there are some over-repeated ideas in some tracks. I could be mistaken; the tracks could be about the same subject. There are some parallels in the stories told in “Dreamer” and “Guarantees”: “No overtime pay, no holiday / Months behind on everything but the lottery / Winter ’round the corner, guaranteein’ that my car dies / Wifey havin’ trouble tryna juggle both the part-times” (Guarantees). Similarly, in “Dreamer”, “It don’t matter he ain’t got a job / So she had to go work / And leave the baby with her mom / Second shift ’til the neck is stiff.”

Structurally, the album is organized very well. The album seems to be split into three parts. The first part consists of tracks 1-5. The second part starts with “You”, along with Slug telling of his relationship with his father in “Yesterday”. The third part has “Me”, and the vague hinting at Slug’s relationship with his daughter in “The Waitress”.

One of the sadder tracks is “Yesterday”, a song about Slug’s relationship with his dad. It isn’t revealed until the very who the song is about. Throughout, he addresses the subject as “you”. He asks himself, “Was that you? Looked just like you. / Strange things my imagination might do … Or am I just going crazy ’cause I miss you?” At the very end, he says “I thought I saw you yesterday / But I knew it wasn’t you, ’cause you passed away, dad.” He reveals that the subject is his dad and that his dad passed away all in one tragic lyric.

“The Waitress” mentions Slug’s (or the narrator’s) daughter, but it isn’t clear what the relationship is between him and the waitress. Similar to “Yesterday” the big reveal is at the very end. The last line is “In the cafe bathroom drinking free tap water / Thinking: “Damn, I should’ve been a better father to my daughter” Either the waitress is his daughter, or she reminds him of his daughter.

Overall, this album has some really nice lyrics, backed by well-produced beats and textures. As I said before, I felt that there could have been some variation in the story content. Despite that, There are many great tracks on this hour-long album.

Favorite Track: Like The Rest Of Us

Atmosphere - When Life Gives You Lemons

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