Slug (Interview) [Tag Team]
Vancouver, B.C. – It gets a little mundane doing one on one interviews, so HipHopCanada writer Kassandra Guagliardi and Western Editor Amalia Judith have decided to start tag-teaming on the questions and photos. Who better to begin with than Slug... after the many Atmosphere shows we’ve attended together, it seemed appropriate. We took Slug into the back alley behind the Vogue Theatre, where there was all sorts of action: hobo fights, joke-tellin’, trash diggin’ and a couple fans sliding through to get a quick pic with the man whose music made them fall in love. We did get some answers out of the guy too, and he spoke freely on the subjects of the new album, group therapy and his dream collab…with Jesus. Slug seems to have grown up quite a bit – although he makes light of the matter when it’s addressed – and his music is both more grounded and easier to relate to. Then again, God Loves Ugly seemed being pretty easy to relate to as well; I guess we’ve all grown up a little. Slug was in town for Atmosphere’s performance alongside Rhymesayers counterparts Grieves and Blueprint on the Family Vacation Tour. We had a little “safety meeting” with Slug, and he was stoked to find out just how green this city really is.
“I am the masses. Whatever the masses think, I think…When they talk about the masses, they really talk about me.”
HipHopCanada: Can we start with a joke? You got any good ones?
Slug: Baby polar bear is going to sleep, daddy polar bear is tucking him in. Daddy finishes reading him a story and polar bear is about to go to sleep and then he says wait a minute, daddy, are you a hundred percent polar bear? Daddy’s like yea. Is mom 100 percent polar bear? Daddy’s like yea. Baby polar bear rolls over and goes to sleep. Next night, baby polar bear as he’s getting tucked in turns to dad, and says dad are you a hundred percent polar bear, dad says yea. Is mom a hundred percent polar bear? Dad says, yea mom’s a hundred percent polar bear, why? Baby polar bear doesn’t answer he just rolls over and goes to sleep. Dads like okay, alright buddy, fuckin weird kid. Third night in a row, in a row! Baby polar bear’s going to bed again, he’s getting tucked in by dad again & he says dad are you a hundred percent and dad says yea, is mom a hundred percent – Yea. Dad goes why? Baby polar bear starts to fall asleep dad goes, No, wake up, every night you keep asking me. I’m a hundred percent, mom’s a hundred percent. The kid goes well, if you’re a hundred percent polar bear, and mom’s a hundred percent polar bear, that would make me a hundred percent polar bear right? Dad’s like yea we’re all polar bears! Why?! And the kid goes, cuz I’m fucking cold!
HipHopCanada: Well that was quite the dad joke, and I hear you have a pretty new baby…Is Slug growing up?
Slug: Me? (laughs) I mean I’m getting taller if that’s what you mean. What do you mean?
HipHopCanada: Well the general consensus among critics is that you are maturing, and looking back on some old interviews, I’d agree.
Slug: What did they used to be? Was I tryna get laid?
HipHopCanada: Well, you definitely mentioned using your status to find someone to make out with.
Slug: Yea… yea, I guess because I found one that would make out with me, and now we have a baby.
HipHopCanada: Is your audience growing with you, or is there a new crop of Atmosphere fans out there?
Slug: I think both, you know I think some people are growing with us, but every year there’s younger people. What I’m going for is to eventually be able to have a show that you could bring your dad to, or your mom to, meaning people my age who have grown with me can come with their 12/13 year olds. [burps] Sorry about the burp, I’ma blow it over here. Did that make sense? Right on.
HipHopCanada: Atmosphere’s new album is The Family Sign, and I was very interested in the family therapy video series that you guys put out…was that legit, or was it scripted?
Slug: It is, none of it is scripted, I just thought, this should be funny because you know, he’s a real doctor, he’s gonna ask us real shit, and the four of us all have a tendency to try and crack jokes so this should be pretty good, us bumping heads with this doctor who’s really tryna pick our minds while we try to navigate that as well as our natural inclinations to try to be funny I guess. I just thought that knowing the four of us, this would make for some funny footage…
HipHopCanada: So how reflective was that experience, did you guys get pretty introspective as a group?
Slug: Oh yea, that’s why I stopped putting them up like I, we, wont let’ em post the rest of them, because it started to get way too…it’s funny cause when I watched them as they went up, I could see as they were going that they were becoming more and more and more I guess ah – reflective. And it was just more than I wanted to show people so we stopped after a while. But they were all one big session that we did, we just filmed the session, and gave all this footage to this kid in New York and he’s the one who cut it up and edited it and I could see the direction that he was going with it. I’m not sure what the question was…Do you guys have any weed? Right on. I dunno that it made any of us learn anything about each other, we know each other so intimately that there isn’t a whole lot hidden. You know we’ve been traveling together for years now.
HipHopCanada: What about when one of your bandmates claimed that you sometimes shoot down his ideas and then steal them?
Slug: Yea he was full of shit I can’t believe he said that! I have never stolen any of his ideas man, he’s full of shit! Every good idea that anybody’s ever had was mine to begin with.
HipHopCanada: In the past you’ve claimed that you won’t perform certain songs because you cease to like them…what about the current album? Do you like them all?
Slug: Um, I’ll perform any of them right now because my relationship with them in a live sense is still kinda brand new. You know as time goes, after I perform them for an amount of time then my relationship might shift or change with any of them, you know it’s hard to tell. I don’t have the foresight to know which ones of them I’m gonna maybe possibly not like further down the road. But it’s like when you make songs, that’s one relationship, but once you start performing them, and using them as communication in a live sense and seeing the reaction people have or feeling the reaction you have, your relationship can change with that, so as of right now I like them all. Um, some of them make me nervous just cause some of them I actually have to hit notes, and I’m not the best at hitting notes, and so like, you know track number 4 the um the just for show song, that one scares the shit outta me because that can sometimes be really fuckin hard for me to do on the fly like just now I did it wrong, you know what I mean so, so we’ll see. But as of right now I still like them all. Once we turned the record in, I stopped listening to the record cause there was nothing I could do to change any of them at that point and just started focusing on working on the live versions of them.
HipHopCanada: Your new video for “She’s Enough” stars mostly children…why did you go the kid route?
Slug: It’s important to challenge yourself, as well as challenge your surroundings. And so my surroundings would be my friend, or my audience, or family. Um and you know I’ve always read that the hardest, when filming the hardest, the hardest uh people to work with are animals, kids and elderly…
HipHopCanada: That’s funny, cause your other new single “Just For Show” stars a dog…it’s all coming together! I guess an elderly video is next…Back on topic, how’s the tour been so far?
Slug: Uh it’s ecstatic or exciting, it’s boring it’s great. It’s been everything that it could be all of the different faces of ziggy and all, yea it’s been a really good time, best tour I’ve ever done.
HipHopCanada: Favorite city in the world?
HipHopCanada: Inspirational up and coming artists? Rhymesayers signs a lot of new talent, anybody interesting?
Slug: Well we just sign friends; some of them aren’t that talented. I’m not that talented you know. It’s a matter of working with good people, people that you trust, people that you believe in, people that you would put your resources behind, and so we’ve always kinda stayed away from chasing after talent and just working with good friends and trying to help them achieve their goals or cultivate their talent you know, develop what their trying to do you know, just luckily a lot of our good friends are also talented people you know.
HipHopCanada: Are you more inspired by the people around you, or by outside sources?
Slug: I guess both, I guess both, but most of the time I think I’m moreso inspired by the people I surround myself by.
HipHopCanada: Any new favorite albums out there?
Slug: Um well it’s not out yet but there’s this artist named Evidence who I’m sure you guys are familiar with, his record’s coming out soon and it’s a fuckin’ amazing record! Probably one of my favorite rap records in a long time. And then Blueprint whose record just came out like a month ago, I still think that’s my favorite record of the year so far…
HipHopCanada: Are you familiar with much Canadian hip-hop?
Slug: I’m a fan of Classified, I’m a fan of Shaun Boothe, I’m a fan of Shad, um, I’m friends with Josh Martinez. Buck 65, I’m friends with him. You know I mean, obviously I’m aware of Drake. I think he’s very attractive um… that’s what I’m supposed to think right? Yea. I’m a I’m a sucker for that, I am the masses. Whatever the masses think, I think, I am the masses. When they talk about the masses, they really talk about me.
HipHopCanada: So you make music that you would listen to?
Slug: Hell no, I don’t listen to my own music, we already went over that, but that was with her [gestures to Amalia]. But yea, like once I turn the record in I never go a look at the record again, I start thinking about the next one. And yea, I’m pretty confident that if I wasn’t me, I wouldn’t listen to Atmosphere records. I’m more of a fan of Prodigy, Alchemist, Mobb Deep. I just like dark stuff you know, mostly dark music. I was totally joking, I would be a huge uber fan of myself, I would be a Stan, I would be a Sean Stan. I would, you know there’s kids sitting out front right now already…I would have been there three days ago, yea.
HipHopCanada: What about collaborations? You did Felt 3, was that your last one?
Slug: Yes, me and Murs have done 3 of those. Um I did a record once with Eyedea and Aesop Rock and Blueprint, and Illogic, called The Orphanage but we decided not to put that out. Uh, long time ago I did a record called the Dynospectrum. But as of late, yea Felt is the most recent collaboration that I’ve done. I haven’t worked on any collabs since.
HipHopCanada: So if you could do a collab now with anyone living or dead – even attractive Drake – who would it be?
Slug: Why would it be Drake? You think I wanna make music with sexy people, is that what you’re implying? It would be Jesus & we’d get fuckin high…make a concept record. We’d make like a rap opera.
HipHopCanada: Jesus featuring Slug?
Slug: Why would it be Jesus featuring slug? It’d be Slug featuring Jesus; we would actually just be a super group. Me and Jesus, and Buffy the human beat box from the Fat Boys. Yea.
HipHopCanada: Soundset music festival in Minnesota…seems to be getting bigger, getting crazier…
Slug: Soundset, fourth year 2011, it’s not crazy it’s just bigger. Why not go the other way then?
HipHopCanada: Do you feel like the king of Midwest hip-hop cause that kind of put your town on the map?
Slug: Nah, I think that ah, I’m just another guy contributing to you know the history of the over all movement. I don’t believe in kings.
HipHopCanada: How about the prince?
Slug: Yes, I am prince, I’m not the prince of midwest hip-hop I’m just prince. The artist formally known as is now called that so I’m just taking his old name.
HipHopCanada: Well we started with a joke so let’s end with one too, wanna hear one?
Slug: Yes, I might steal it.
HipHopCanada: Why did the scarecrow win an award?
Slug: Why did the scarecrow win an award? I dunno, why?
HipHopCanada: Cause he was outstanding in his field.
Interview and Photography by Kassandra Guagliardi and Amalia Judith