Grown man rap
For more than a decade, Sean Daley - aka Slug and one half of Atmosphere (Anthony Davis, aka Ant, is the other) - has had a history of rapping about crushes on female celebrities from Edie Sedgwick to Christina Ricci.
So in talking to him about Atmosphere's upcoming show at the Newport with Blueprint, I had to ask if he's feeling anything for the country's newest sex symbol, the Official Hockey Mom of the Republican Party.
"Do I want to make out with Sarah Palin?" he said, having a laugh at my silly question. "I would play chess with her, but no, I wouldn't make out with her. It would make my girlfriend kinda mad at me. Plus, I have worked through a lot of my sexual issues that I had in the past."
This maturation is evident on the most recent Atmosphere album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That S--- Gold. More character-driven than their previous work, the disc documents the extended adolescence now prevalent in our society, in which people still act like dysfunctional teenagers into their thirties and kids are raised by adult babies.
While I prefer the earlier Atmosphere, where Daley played the role of Eminem-turned-Rimbaud, When Life Gives You Lemons has some real resonance in its depiction of what he refers to as "our culture of convenience."
"Right now we are in a state of 'if it feels good, do it,'" Daley said, adding that even with the disastrous state of the economy, he believes it'll take a couple of generations before more people start acting age-appropriate and responsible.
"Our current culture is a caricature of itself. My children, maybe your children will be disgusted with what's going on and right the wrongs," he said.
As Daley explained, there's some connection between the message in the latest CD and some previous material, which will be mined at the Newport show.
"We focus on co-dependency and poor decision-making in the album," he explained. "The show is more like a children's book to remind adults that act like children that they need to find resolution. We mix in old songs that fit the story."
Blueprint joins Atmosphere's current "Paint the Nation" tour as a labelmate on Rhymesayers, which has played a big part in Columbus' national impact on underground hip-hop. On top of Blueprint's solo material, the label has released work by Soul Position, 'Print's project with RJD2.
Working with Rhymesayers has given Minneapolis-based Atmosphere some close associations with the Columbus scene. In at least one case - the June death of his friend, Columbus rapper and producer DJ Przm - that's made Daley face a fair amount of harsh adult reality.
I asked him about this, as well as the death of Columbus rapper-producer Camu Tao in May, and what kind of future he foresees for the local scene.
"As far as Przm, he brought people together," Daley said. "I could be in a room with other people I didn't care for, but Przm being the glue between always made things OK. I didn't really know Camu like other people did, but every time I saw him, he was filled with positive energy.
"Columbus, there is something special about Columbus," he continued. "Aside from rap, Columbus is a struggling city in many ways. And for people to come out of that and still be like, 'Even though life is hard, I can still put a smile on my face, and give you a handshake and a warm greeting,' that's bigger than hip-hop."
"Paint the Nation" tour featuring Atmosphere and Blueprint
Wednesday, Oct. 22
Newport Music Hall, Campus