Atmosphere auf Deutschland-Tour: Stef Gocheva (Text) und Lost Citzen (Fotos) trafen sich in Berlin zum Gespräch mit Slug. Man unterhielt sich über die frühen Tage der heutigen Erfolgsgruppe, das aktuelle Album “You Don’t Know How Much Fun We’re Having” sowie zukünftige Projekte.
Hey Slug. How do you feel after this amazing show today?
I am hungry. I feel good. I think today was a fun show and yesterday was a good show. I think yesterday I was not as good as I could have been, but it was the first one and I was kind of nervous, but not so much because I wasn’t the headliner. There wasn’t that much pressure on me.
Do you see any difference between a european crowd and one in the United States?
I can’t really see it on stage, but when I get off stage and talk to people. It seems to me the kids here that like Hip Hop and talk to me from more than just the music. In the US the kids that are fans, are fans the way: “This is my favourite artist, and I’m gonna see their show”. I met a lot of people here, I might not be their favourite artist, they just love Hip Hop, they love graffiti, they love all of it.
What do you think about the current state of Hip Hop?
In the US the different elements of Hip Hop aren’t so tight together anymore.They are splitten.The difference when I was 13, now I am 33, is amazing. The deejays all spin to techno and drum’n’bass and breakdancing is separate. Rappers are a commadety. They used to be the voice of the youth, the voice of the culture, the voice of the movement. Now they are more a voice of a cultural violance. And I am starting to see that happen here. I am starting to see mainstream Hip Hop from France or Germany, too. Mainstream Hip Hop that is actually from Germany that is starting to become violent, starting to become seperated. I don’t know what its actually out here on the radio, but I don’t hear about german rappers that are graffiti artists.
Do you have some alltime favourite albums?
I guess the first 3 Boogiedown Productions records, the second Jungle Brothers record, the first two Big Daddy Kane records. I guess my favourite record of all time is probably the first X-Clan record. I am a fan of consious rap. I grew up listening to the rap that was trying to educate. And I even think to some extend that’s kind of what me and Ant make, it’s an inner personal revolution.
Which track from the past captured you the most?
From Public Enemy probably “Rebel without a pause” was the biggest one for me. When that song came out, it was just a b-side on their 12 inch. I had never heard rap music that was noisy like that. Where I grew up and the kind of friends I had, I was never really exposed to punk-rock music, or any rock, or to heavy metal. When that song came out it was a new feeling for me, I can only imagine that it was similar to what punk-rock was for some kids. It was so aggressive, loud and hit you in the face. I think that is what changed me from trying to be cool. “Rebel without a pause” is what made me want to be a rapper. Before that I just loved to listen to rap and I wanted to be a Deejay. But I wanted to be cool (laughs). And after “Rebel without a pause” I wanted to say something.
Does this mean that you were a deejay at first?
Yeah, I still deejay tough. That’s how I started in Hip Hop. In fact when Atmosphere first started in 1991 I was the deejay, I wasn’t a rapper.
Since 1991 there have been some changes in the group…
At first Ant wasn’t even in it. It was me an another kid. I deejayed and he rapped. Together we made the beats. And then we met Ant. We wanted to focus on what we were doing. I also rapped. It was just that when my partner needed a deejay, he knew that I can deejay and he was a really good friend of mine. I was rapping in another group actually, called ARC. I stopped rapping for them and started rapping for Atmposphere. And we were called Urban Atmosphere.
Who came up with the name Atmosphere?
Me and him chose the name Urban Atmosphere. We were young and we were biting U.A., which was a graffiti crew in New York called United Artists. They were in books and magazines idolized. I was also a graffiti writer as a kid. Back then we all used to do all things. U.A. was the crew that I wanted to bite. I just wanted to come up with different words for U.A. After a few years, I realized that the word urban had become a very catchy word that was getting used a lot. The press was starting to say the word urban a lot – for example urban setting, urban environment. It just became a kind of a very chlichee word for city. And than we just dropped the urban and just be Atmosphere. We’ve been putting out tapes before we dropped our first album in 1997. Than we found out that there is another group called Atmosphere, that was making drum’n’bass music. Somebody told me about it, cause I don’t listen to drum’n’bass. I went to some record stores and finally found a CD by the group. And it turned out that we were making music before them. I don’t know what happened, but I think they might have been changed the name.
What is the meaning behind the title “You can’t imagine how much fun we’re having”?
It seemed to me over the years people have this image of me that I was this depressed, upset, sad guy, because of the lyrics. And then when they would meet me, they realized that I am happy, I am in a good mood. It’s just because of the songs that people expect to know what I would be like. In one part it was sarcasm, but on the other part it was the truth. A lot of people thought the title was too long.
People say that “You can’t imagine how much fun we’re having” is your best album. Do you consider it as your best one?
All artist will say their newest is their best. I think that I have 2 best ones, the Felt one that I did with Murs and “You can’t imagine how much fun we’re having”. And I think it’s the best, not because I am the best I’ve ever been, but because together, me and Ant had such focus when we made these records. It was almost as if we finally knew what we are doing. All this time which has been taking risks and guessing was over, cause for the first time we actually knew what we are doing.
Did you plan this album for a long time?
Not really. We started making some preproductions. But I was touring so much, I was probably out for 9 months that year. So we focused on the album after that.
I am diggin the last song of your new album “Little Man”, in which you apologize to your family about your changed lifestyle. Isn’t it hard for you to write about such personal things?
But see, I don’t make the songs for people that listen to it. The work with Ant let me feel free. For him it’s ok when I am that personal and than when he captures something out of me, that he thinks is right, then he says we gotta make that a song. I am not gonna arguing with him, because if I’ll do he will beat me up.
Which song do you like the most from “You don’t know how much fun we’re having”?
My favourite song on it was “Panic attack”. Maybe that one or “Smart went crazy”. “Panic attack” took the longest, but not because of the lyrics, there were other stuff that we put in the music. Nothing really took the longest. We had such a good time making it, that I can’t remember any time when we were “God, we are still making that song!” Everything grew up in one.
You’ve mentioned the Felt album with Murs. Was Felt 2 a spontaneous idea?
Yeah, it was. Murs was in California, and he was just asking what I am doing, and I just wanted to hang out with somebody. And I was like “let me come there!”. Because in California the weather is way nicer. I went out there and we decided to start writing songs. The first one was spontaneous, we didn’t knew we gonna make a record. I went to California, because I was fighting with my girlfriend and I was just going crazy. And I just had to get out of there. I bought a ticket that day and when I got there I called him and said that I am at the airport, and asked him if I can stay with him. He moved in a new place just 2 days ago. So I went out there and we decided to make some songs, and that’s what it ended up becoming an album.
Can we expect a Felt 3 album?
I guess, if one of us has to get away from a girlfriend.
What about an Orphanage Project album?
Never! We made an album, but none of the songs were focused. You got five really incredible rappers. If they got together to make a record, it should be a record with lots of things to say. But every song sounded like we were all rapping about different things. Some of the other guys disagree and they wanted to put it out, but my vote is No. It’s because I feel like, if we gonna make a record and give it to people, all five of us should really be responsible for that record. Not just rappedy-rappedy-rap, you know. If you put all songs together and listen to them it sounds like the same song over and over again. This would be 45 minutes of that which is stupid.
Does this mean that you are now careful with picking the right collaborations?
I am very picky about my collaborations now, because in the past I’ve done collaborations with people who turned out to be people who I don’t even like, people that I would never collaborate with nowadays. So now I am very careful. I have now basicly rules. I won’t collaborate with you for money. You can offer me all the money in the world, but basicly if you aren’t a friend of mine, I won’t do this collaboration. If you are famous that’s not enough, money is not enough, if you are really good it’s not enough. I would rather work with a friend of mine who sucks, but I know he is a friend. And I would do a record with Orphanage, cause I am a friend with all of those guys, but my rule for that is, that it has to be up to the potential of what it could be.
Is there any emcee or producer out there you would like to work with?
Well, no. I feel like I’ve been able to work with all the people I ever really wanted to.
What are some brand new artists that you are feeling right now? Do you think they can reach the top?
I think so. There is an artist from New York called Juelz Santana. When I hear him rap, he is so natural, and has so much charisma that it almost reminds me of 2 Pac. It’s so natural, but he doesn’t sound like 2 Pac. Nas is natural too when he raps. Juelz has that, there is charizma there, that I see. In his career this is so important for him. He has one song on his record that is for his nephew. I thought that’s good, cause you are dealing with a real issue and not just rapping about
stuff. I really like the way the guy is rapping.
Any final words for the Hip Hop lovers out there who are reading this?
We all gonna get old. Be careful not to give up on the Hip Hop, because I see some of the peoples I grew up with, who got old, who slowly moved on. If those people move on, than that’s why Hip Hop changes and becomes this new thing, becomes a commodety now instead of a community.
Thank you for the nice conversation.
Thank you back.