The Boombox recently caught up with indie phenomenon Slug of the duo Atmosphere to discuss his latest critically acclaimed album The Family Sign. The Minnesota-based Rhymesayer explains the process that went into making his sixth commercial release, saying that the LP was his way of re-connecting with his family, friends and army of fans after a two-year period that found him dealing with a host of personal problems, including the death of his friend and Rhymesayer Entertainment labelmate Eyedea.

“I was trying to make a statement to my people and to my community to an extent,” he said. “But I’m not trying to keep anybody out either. I just felt like the last two years for me has been so full of ups and downs. I was trying to make sure I was strengthening my connectivity with my family, my friends as well as the people who appreciate the things that we do.”

Slug also touches on Eminem and how the Detroit emcee’s meteoric rise to fame in the mid-‘90s affected him as a Caucasian rapper. He says that while he’s always respected Em as an emcee, he feels that Em’s popularity pushed other white underground rappers to musically disassociate themselves from him. He also added that much of the criticism Em has faced from other white rappers stems from jealousy of his success.

“I think Eminem and his existence and how big he got did influence the underground by making artists try to go the other direction,” he explained. “I wasn’t seeing a bunch of people trying to emulate Eminem, but I was seeing a lot of people in the late ’90s and early 2000’s who were going to opposite direction of Eminem because they were insecure about being affiliated with him…I was already kicking my shit off before Em got big. I had my second and third record out, and I was already touring when that Slim Shady album popped off. And I was like, ‘This motherfucker is dope!’ I think that in most of the communities I frequented, that’s how Em was regarded. You really couldn’t take anything away from the guy. He was dope and he had Dr. Dre co-signing him! So to me, if you hated on Eminem, you were just a hater [laughs].”

He added, “As [Eminem] got bigger and became more of a pop star, that’s when some of the backlash started. But it was never based on him as an MC. Because let’s be real, a lot of the hate [that he faced from other rappers] was about jealously. There were a lot of MCs that hated the fact that Eminem was the one that made it and they didn’t. That wasn’t even a white thing. That was an MC thing.”

You can read the full interview with Slug at The Boombox.

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