Atmosphere – Sad Clown Bad Winter 11

3 out of 5

Label: Rhymesayers

Produced by: ?

The next in the series of between-albums B-sides EPs, Sad Clown Bad Winter 11 is appreciably consistent, but also sounds somewhat restrained, both Slug and Ant trying new things but holding back so they don’t override their partner’s efforts. Lyrically, it’s all very familiar, but strong examples of that familiarity: narrative tales from Minnesota (66th Street) or addictions (Ha, This One is About Alcohol Too) or tracks that trace Slug’s growth into / takes on the rap scene – opener Don’t Stop; They All Get Mad At You. While the rhyme schemes aren’t necessarily surprising, they’re also not repetitive (an issue for Slug, given the high amount of output he creates), and 66th Street in particular shows off his flair for stringing out a long story into a smooth flow. Musically, things are a bit more directly impressive, with Ant mixing some electronics and more aggressive beats into his soul samples, but again, there’s also a sense of restraint – not pushing this stuff too far, and as a result, tracks end up sounding like other Rhymesayers (Blueprint, Brother Ali), and not necessarily like Atmosphere. The most impressive track on both the words and sounds fronts is Beautiful, which has a very progressive, building beat and raps that float in and out of poetry and personal thoughts, but it’s a song that can only be sustained for a short runtime – 2 minutes.