Atmosphere's MC Slug is a 42-year-old humpback with grotesquely large hands. He owns two cats, listens to indie rock and would mate with Rosie O'Donnell just to say he did. He's a sordid sort of priest spreading the gospel of alcohol and sex and listening to your awkward confessions. He's a self-effacing emcee whose defining characteristic is his soul patch and whose "dear diary" style has earned him the unfortunate title of "emo-rap."
"I understand people have to label stuff in order to explain it to people that don't know anything about it, so I don't really care what they call me," Slug explains. "They can call me "frat-boy rap," I don't give a fuck."
That wouldn't be a far cry from the crooked mesh hats that bob up and down like buoys on the sea of the indie rap scene these days. Slug would know, as he has spent the better part of three years rhyming on the road.
"It's the only logical excuse to visit my girlfriends," he says. "There's not much of a future in doing what people like me do, and so if I want to have any type of impact, I don't have time to get lazy. The hourglass is turned, so there's only so much time for me to do as much damage or building as I possibly can."
Slug is joined in his futureless career by his Rhymesayers crew, a group of Minnesotans (specifically, Minneapolites) who follow Anticon, Def Jux, Hieroglyphics, Living Legends and Quannum on the alphabetized shelf of hip-hop cult classics. The anti-hero roster also includes MCs Eyedea, Brother Ali and Musab, plus DJs Abilities and Mr. Dibbs.
Constant touring has allowed Slug to connect with his loyal fans, who often feel that the MC's confessional style calls for a confession in return.
"I hear a lot of abuse stories and sexual abuse stories," says Slug. "The majority of them are relationship issues, but once in a while you get the random kid wearing Ecko whose uncle used to make love to him. It seems like it's almost acceptable in these dysfunctional times. It's like this is the age of the fucked family."
On his third and most recent album, God Loves Ugly, Slug laments that his music doesn't attract groupies, but he also details assorted sexual escapades.
"There is occasionally the 28-year-old drunk lady at the show that didn't come to the show 'cause she loves rap but is there because she works at the club and got off three hours ago and now she's four shots of Cuervo down and she comes up to you after the show and shits on all the kids that watch the show but says, "You were super fucking hot when you were jumping around' and now all she wants to do is suck you off while she's pinkying your butthole," Slug admits.
"Then, I guess... yeah I get groupies," he concludes.
Troubled teens and swashbuckling sluts aren't the only ones taking notice of Slug's talent, as he's been approached, accosted and stalked by just about every major record label (including Sony, Epic, Interscope, Universal and Warner Bros.) Yet Slug remains steadfast in his independent endeavor.
"I'm not doing this to get rich," he says. "I don't care if I sell 12 records or 12 million records. I've already seen and done so much that my mom's proud."
Besides, Slug has found his place in hip-hop-at the bottom of a bottle of Jack underneath a pile of Hustler and Cat Fancy magazines.