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When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold

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Atmosphere 4/22/2008

Review

As the group that helped create the term "emo rap" and give Minnesota and Midwestern rap a place on the map, Atmosphere clearly feel a relative amount of freedom to express themselves however necessary on When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, their fifth studio full-length. As he has on the duo's past albums, MC Slug plays the role of the storyteller, describing the lives of his various characters, all down on their luck (drug addicts, single mothers, homeless men) and struggling to just make it from day to day. The vitriol and anger that were found in Slug's earlier rhymes, however, has left -- along with much of Ant's heavier production -- and are replaced by lyrics that, though equally reflective, take a more resigned view of the world. These are people trying to cope with what they have and who they are, people who have accepted the facts that make their lives reality, who are no longer demanding something different. "They fight about money, they fight about life/So she concentrates so so hard on the music/And loses herself inside the bass and the movement" he rhymes in "In Her Music Box," describing a little girl, and in "Yesterday" he admits that "Leavin' me was probably the best thing you ever taught me." Slug has never been one to gloss over the ugly details, and when his characters are broken (and they all are, to varying degrees), he makes sure to let everyone know. "Your Glasshouse," which features TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe on background vocals, tells of a woman for whom it "ain't the first time throwin' up in a strange toilet," and who then returned to the unknown bed "and fell back asleep," while "The Skinny" has the lines "Your lips taste like his dick/I can always tell when he's been in your whip," his pronunciation of that final syllable particularly exaggerated. The self-loathing and depression from Atmosphere's other albums are both still here, but they're less intense and immediate, reflected in Ant's concentration on live guitars and keyboards, a wholly more organic presentation. This is an understandably more mature group, but fans who've connected to the palpable anger found in the duo's music, if they haven't matured at the same rate or in the same way, may find Lemons to be lacking in the very thing that drew them to Atmosphere in the first place. ~ Marisa Brown
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Like the Rest of Us Atmosphere 3:17
  3. 2 Puppets Atmosphere 3:40
  4. 3 The Skinny Atmosphere 3:34
  5. 4 Dreamer Atmosphere 4:2
  6. 5 Shoulda Known Atmosphere 3:6
  7. 6 You Atmosphere 3:12
  8. 7 Painting Atmosphere 2:58
  9. 8 Your Glasshouse Atmosphere 3:57
  10. 9 Yesterday Atmosphere 3:21
  11. 10 Guarantees Atmosphere 4:31
  12. 11 Me Atmosphere 3:39
  13. 12 Wild Wild Horses Atmosphere 4:12
  14. 13 Can't Break Atmosphere 3:31
  15. 14 The Waitress Atmosphere 2:55
  16. 15 In Her Music Box Atmosphere 4:18

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