Audio Reviews
When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold
by Atmosphere
Rhymesayers (2008)
When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold
7 / 10
It’s been difficult to understand whether Atmosphere’s now signature sound has become redundant or a masterful recipe to continue. On their sixth official LP, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint that Shit Gold, Slug (MC) and Ant (producer) collaborate for another array of third-person heavy narratives and catchy piano melodies. Their recent releases (You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having, Strictly Leakage, Sad Clown Bad Summer) were tiresome with b-side worthy stories of he/she/him/her and mediocre beats. Luckily, this record has Ant exploring further with his production talent and still allowing for a handful of tracks with his classic guitar and bass loop style. The opening cut “Like the Rest of Us,” is refreshing for an Atmosphere album, or for any hip-hop record for that matter. There is no introductory statement and it’s one of the more lyrically powerful on Paint It Gold. It’s also reminiscent of their 1999 song “Abusing the Rib,” with brilliant keys and the crisp voice of Slug narrating a well-enunciated story about understanding alcohol, hypocrisy, and sympathy.

The Minneapolis-duo market the record with Slug wearing a mustache and greasy hair on seven Paint It Gold youtube episodes. The videos show the rap icon and Ant answering emails from fans, cracking jokes, defending their support for Obama, and discussing their new piece of work. On episode seven, Slug says that his favorite track on the record is “The Skinny” because it is such a departure from normal Atmosphere songs. It is like a “crazy, technical movie. I hear robots chasing monsters. It’s about cigarettes, but I wrote it like it’s about a pimp.”

The first single released for the album is “Shoulda Known,” which tells a tale of addiction and falling in love with substance abusers. “I got a restraining order against Satan’s daughter and I keep it at the bottom of this Jamison and water,” raps Slug. “Guarantees” showcases an acoustic, bluesy guitar with Slug singing about the reality of the workingman, parenting difficulties, and “the only guarantee in life, is a life worth dying for.” The highlights on the album are on “Painting” and “Wild Wild Horses,” when the finest ingredients are added: A mesmerizing loop and Slug rhyming metaphorically about life, progress, regrets, and love. On this record, Atmosphere return to what they do best: finding a balance between departure and familiarity, arrogance and humbleness, commercialism and conscious hip-hop. They know what they are doing and they do it well.
Posted by: Revaz Ardesher

Audio Reviews (April 29th, 2008)

Tags: Atmosphere, hip-hop, paintitgold, slug, ant