Family Ties by Atmosphere
Possibly the most prolific hip-hop artist out there today returns with another deeply personal album (and some really cool album art). I’ll be blunt and say that it’s not Atmosphere’s best work, although the bar is set pretty damn high. “Became” is a bizarre and almost silly (not in a good way) song about a camping adventure gone awry… its a rap song about someone turning into a wolf I think. “Bad Bad Daddy” is (as you would expect) a song about a poor father and some particularly unruly kids. The whole song is distorted and probably messed with wayyy too much in the editing room. Also the chorus, which just features Slug saying “Bad Bad Daddy” is downright annoying.
Despite some really lackluster tracks “Family Sign” still delivers some solid moments. “Just For Show” is as funky as any break-up (staying together?) song has any business being, with it’s reggaeish beat and confident lyrics. And “She’s Enough” is a love song delivered over an ultra catchy guitar riff and featuring the best hook on the album. It’s the type of gritty but honest ballad that only Slug could get away with. The album gets down right touching toward the end with a slow emotional tracks. My favorite probably being “Something So” which gradually builds over some gentle guitar and is basically a love song to Slugs’ kids. “Family Sign” ends with the brief but effortlessly cool “My Notes”. It’s an uplifting song about trying to be a doper person and finding your comfort zone in life. If the song proves anything it is that no other MC out there sounds better over piano.
“Family Sign” isn’t always the easiest Atmosphere album to listen to, but if you stick with it I think it definitely has something to offer. As his career goes on you can’t help but feel more and more like you actually know Slug. That’s something you can’t say about a lot of artists. And anytime Slug opens that door to his soul/heart/mind you should except the invitation, because there is always gonna be something positive that you can take away from the experience.
The Family Sign: 3 out of 5