“To all my killers and my hundred dollar billers/to emo kids who got too many feelings.” After a year of being chased by all the major majors, Seven‘s travels have led to Seven’s Travels, and as always, independent as fuck. Some claim to hate Slug‘s so-called ’emo-rap’ as they are unlikely to be able to hear the music amidst the chest thumping and imaginary gun claps. Regardless of what your machismo may allow you to accept, if you live on this planet and you’re not entirely sure what you are doing here, Atmosphere is for you. Love, hate, life, and just about everything in between painted over Ant‘s canvases – which, as of 2003, few are touching.
While each impending release have seen Slug and Ant pigeon-holed, Seven’s Travels sees them stepping out of the box. Slug‘s flow and delivery change with each song as Ant‘s pallet of sounds grow more diverse. This is instantly noticeable on the booming single “Trying To Find A Balance.” As Slug ponders their place in Hip Hop, he gets some vintage lines such as “hello ma’am would you be interested in some sexual positions and emotional investments/I’m not insane in fact I’m kinda rational/when I be asked y’all where did all the passion go?” “Bird Sings Why The Caged I Know” is a masterpiece. Not just because Slug and Ant are both at their best, but the song structure is just unbelievable. A sneaky little number, “Gotta Lotta Walls” is in the vein of “Like Today,” waxing philosophically in the form of storytelling.
The album really gets varied at the hurried “The Keys To Live vs. 15 Minutes of Fame,” the sing-songy “Apple” and the punk-rockish “Suicide Girls.” Their most success comes with the Def Jux inspired “Cats Van Bag.” A grinding track that Slug and Brother Ali dismantle. “Los Angeles” is the quirkiest of the bunch and Slug pays better tribute to LA than emcees that live there. It pales in comparison to the tribute he pays to his home on the beautiful “Always Coming Home To You.” The shocking absence of Lucy is somewhat replaced with the 6 minute opus “Lifter Puller.” Showing his versatility, Slug goes from self-depreciating humor (“Shoes”) to some social commentary (“National Disgrace”). Ant‘s flexibility is equally displayed from the ridiculously smooth “Denvemolorado” and the danceable “Liquor Lyles Cool July.”
What you’re left with after 70 odd minutes is a stunning piece of work, even with some inconsistencies along the way. Easily in 2003’s top 5, “Seven’s Travels” may just be the best Atmosphere album yet, even if it is their least cohesive. Foolish haters can say emo rap this and nerd rap that but while they’re off thumping their chest in some primate ritual, they are missing out on some of the best music being made today. If you think Atmosphere makes dope records say shhh…