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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 stars, my favorite since Lucy Ford
By reading through the various reviews you can pretty easily tell whether you would like this latest release or not. As I see it there are two types of Atmosphere listeners. One type are drawn to Atmosphere for Slug's charisma, the other type likes Slug's more introspective and intellectual side '(Ant's beats are a given I think). I'm more part of the second group, and...
Published on April 24, 2008 by J. Lee

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slugs New Groove: A Minimalist Story Teller
Throughout the album slug departs from his previous up front, personal lyrics to telling stories. His beats are minimalistic and beautiful. "Yesterday" is by far the upbeat track of the album, but slug creates his familiar stark contrast with the sparse "Guarantees". Although Slug maintains some old formulas a major change is his live band making most of the beats which...
Published on April 22, 2008 by Rahsaan


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 stars, my favorite since Lucy Ford, April 24, 2008
By 
By reading through the various reviews you can pretty easily tell whether you would like this latest release or not. As I see it there are two types of Atmosphere listeners. One type are drawn to Atmosphere for Slug's charisma, the other type likes Slug's more introspective and intellectual side '(Ant's beats are a given I think). I'm more part of the second group, and after listening to the album front to back four times (which is already a good sign) I can safely say that this is my favorite release since I first came to this duo with Lucy Ford. Though I like a lot of the fun and clever songs that you hear on the Felt Tributes, and the more hard hitting and upbeat songs last few releases, what really gets me is when Slug sits down to really write something introspective and maybe even depressing. I feel like Slug spent a longer time with the writing process on this one than in the past.

With that said, I really enjoyed the music on this album, and music it is. The days of simply using some tight hip hop loops seem to be something of the past for Atmosphere, they are branching out. Most of the songs use live instruments, have a lot of crescendos and breaks which gives the songs more complexity and less of a head nodding groove than a past albums. If you like hip-hop artists that are taking more musically complex directions rather than being devoted to some stuff you can slap in the car and feel the base thump, I would recommend this highly.

Also I think that this is more of a cohesive album than the previous two. Slug deals with some consistent themes in this album including addiction, hypocrisy, disappointments, and the need to grow up and deal with them. This is a very mature album made by two artists that are by this time wanting to branch out and expand and do things that interest them. There is nothing artificial about Slug's delivery, but you get the feeling that if he was as good at singing as he is at being an MC than this might be very well have been a rock album.

In the end, if you look to Atmosphere's music more for escape than for reflection this probably won't interest you and you should get the "Strictly Leakage" free download from their website, which is also a great album, and maybe stay away from this album.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bust Out That Gold Spray Paint! (4 Stars), May 5, 2008
I've been an Atmosphere fan since 2003, and seeing them flourish over the years has been an exciting process. The strategic approach counting down to the release of their 6th full-length album "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Sh** Gold", is among the best marketing scheme's you'll ever see spawned by an independent record label. So good in fact, that is has seemingly stripped them of underground status as the album debuted at an astonishing #5 on the Billboard Top 200 alongside other fluffy pop artists such as Mariah Carey & Ashlee Simpson.

Leading up to it's release, Atmosphere released a string of 4 excellent 5-song EPs, and the undeniably dope full-length "Strictly Leakage" for FREE through the official Rhymesayers web site. In addition to creating a plethora of solid material, Slug & Ant tirelessly promoted their new album through a series 10-minute You Tube episodes entitled "Paint It Gold", where they answered endless questions from fans throughout the world, and also provided them an outlet for that extra promotion they needed for the album.

In all actuality, the formula for "Lemons" is not sonically different from most Atmosphere records. Ant's beats creep into a bit more synth-heavy territory on some tracks, and on the whole, comes through with some of his cleanest, and most memorable set of beats to date. Slug is also maturing very nicely. His songwriting skills and his close-knit connection with his fans have reached an all-time high. I have a hard time thinking of a rapper that would be more in touch with the game of hip-hop today than Slug is. He seems to stay truly inspired, and it comes through in his writing and delivery. The album does slightly favor conscious, introspective material over straight bangers. In other words, it's nothing like "Strictly Leakage".

"Like The Rest Of Us" & "Puppets" kick the album off. They are notably slow for openers, and really sets up the mood for the album. "The Skinny" is one of the more unique gems here. The production is filled with grimey synth, and works quite well. Slug boasts clever lyrics about cigarettes through the metaphor of a pimp. "Dreamer" includes nice hooks, choruses & some beautiful production; definitely a favorite of mine. "Shoulda Know" is the first video/single off the record, and stands strong as well. "You" is definitely my favorite in the bunch. Ant's production is addictive here, and that chorus will get stuck in your head for days. And as Ant stated in one of their episodes of "Paint It Gold", this song makes you smile every time you hear it. The piano-filled "Yesterday" is equally dope in my opinion. "Guarantees" may be the most different song you'll hear here. Just Slug & a nice quiet guitar with a nice singer-songwriter piece. It would be served better with a better guitarist and a straight up acoustic, but it's still very nice. "Painting" & "Me" are also a couple of excellent tunes that border on melancholy. "Wild Wild Horses" works excellent here. Nice samples and beat all around. Closing out the album, we get some beautiful tunes. My favorites being "The Waitress" & the banger "Can't Break". The deluxe edition includes a 40-page gold embossed hard cover book with an illustrated book written by Slug, and a bonus DVD of an entire live performance straight from First Avenue in Minneapolis!

Overall, this is one of Atmosphere's most gorgeously crafted albums in their entire catalog; and of 2008. And I can't think of a much better album that could break into the Billboard charts with such presence than "Lemons". And it definitely holds a much different vibe than your typical mainstream rap affair, which will hopefully shine some light on more of the "real" hip-hop released in the days where mainstream rap is in a world of hurt. Excellent job Slug & Ant. You are making Minnesota proud!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bust Out That Gold Spray Paint! (4 Stars), May 5, 2008
This review is from: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (Audio CD)
I've been an Atmosphere fan since 2003, and seeing them flourish over the years has been an exciting process. The strategic approach counting down to the release of their 6th full-length album "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Sh** Gold", is among the best marketing scheme's you'll ever see spawned by an independent record label. So good in fact, that is has seemingly stripped them of underground status as the album debuted at an astonishing #5 on the Billboard Top 200 alongside other fluffy pop artists such as Mariah Carey & Ashlee Simpson.

Leading up to it's release, Atmosphere released a string of 4 excellent 5-song EPs, and the undeniably dope full-length "Strictly Leakage" for FREE through the official Rhymesayers web site. In addition to creating a plethora of solid material, Slug & Ant tirelessly promoted their new album through a series 10-minute You Tube episodes entitled "Paint It Gold", where they answered endless questions from fans throughout the world, and also provided them an outlet for that extra promotion they needed for the album.

In all actuality, the formula for "Lemons" is not sonically different from most Atmosphere records. Ant's beats creep into a bit more synth-heavy territory on some tracks, and on the whole, comes through with some of his cleanest, and most memorable set of beats to date. Slug is also maturing very nicely. His songwriting skills and his close-knit connection with his fans have reached an all-time high. I have a hard time thinking of a rapper that would be more in touch with the game of hip-hop today than Slug is. He seems to stay truly inspired, and it comes through in his writing and delivery. The album does slightly favor conscious, introspective material over straight bangers. In other words, it's nothing like "Strictly Leakage".

"Like The Rest Of Us" & "Puppets" kick the album off. They are notably slow for openers, and really sets up the mood for the album. "The Skinny" is one of the more unique gems here. The production is filled with grimey synth, and works quite well. Slug boasts clever lyrics about cigarettes through the metaphor of a pimp. "Dreamer" includes nice hooks, choruses & some beautiful production; definitely a favorite of mine. "Shoulda Know" is the first video/single off the record, and stands strong as well. "You" is definitely my favorite in the bunch. Ant's production is addictive here, and that chorus will get stuck in your head for days. And as Ant stated in one of their episodes of "Paint It Gold", this song makes you smile every time you hear it. The piano-filled "Yesterday" is equally dope in my opinion. "Guarantees" may be the most different song you'll hear here. Just Slug & a nice quiet guitar with a nice singer-songwriter piece. It would be served better with a better guitarist and a straight up acoustic, but it's still very nice. "Painting" & "Me" are also a couple of excellent tunes that border on melancholy. "Wild Wild Horses" works excellent here. Nice samples and beat all around. Closing out the album, we get some beautiful tunes. My favorites being "The Waitress" & the banger "Can't Break". The deluxe edition includes a 40-page gold embossed hard cover book with an illustrated book written by Slug, and a bonus DVD of an entire live performance straight from First Avenue in Minneapolis!

Overall, this is one of Atmosphere's most gorgeously crafted albums in their entire catalog; and of 2008. And I can't think of a much better album that could break into the Billboard charts with such presence than "Lemons". And it definitely holds a much different vibe than your typical mainstream rap affair, which will hopefully shine some light on more of the "real" hip-hop released in the days where mainstream rap is in a world of hurt. Excellent job Slug & Ant. You are making Minnesota proud!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is NOT the deluxe version!!!, May 3, 2008
This review is from: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (Audio CD)
The product description states that this is the deluxe version which includes a book and DVD. They are charging $5.00 more for this than they are charging for the standard edition and guess what? It IS the standard edition. I ordered it and returned it 3 times and just kept getting the standard edition. DO NOT ORDER THIS VERSION.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slugs New Groove: A Minimalist Story Teller, April 22, 2008
Throughout the album slug departs from his previous up front, personal lyrics to telling stories. His beats are minimalistic and beautiful. "Yesterday" is by far the upbeat track of the album, but slug creates his familiar stark contrast with the sparse "Guarantees". Although Slug maintains some old formulas a major change is his live band making most of the beats which can be a good thing and a bad thing. It allows him more freedom musically but the 70s soul bass lines and guitar riffs become formulaic. This is not Atmosphere's best work, but it is certainly a fresh identity for Slug: storyteller.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, April 22, 2008
What I love about Atmosphere is they keep evolving as artists. Everyone else wants them to deliver the same old stuff time after time, but every time they put out something new and original. Slug's storytelling ability continues to wow me on this album its as if he's actually standing in someone else's shoes(Guarantee's, In Her Music Box, Yesterday). Ant's beats are diverse and crazy and often time's on this album mesmerizing.

I will bump shoulda known everyday for the next month driving around town.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Making The Most of Opportunities, May 11, 2008
By 
Mo-Dilla (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (Audio CD)
In the past half a decade or so, Atmosphere has grown from a hardly recognized dynamic Minnesota duo into a nationwide independent Hip-Hop phenomenon. Now on their sixth major release "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That **** Gold," their remarkable catalogue of records is going to weigh heavy expectations on their shoulders. Their album previous to this (Strictly Leakage) has turned heads and fans of their former effort are probably expecting this album to follow the success; but "When Life Give You Lemons" does anything but stick to a formula. This is a completely original effort on Atmosphere's part; one that rewards a more thoughtful listen, and one that propels Slug & Ant among Hip Hop history's most poetic and meaningful musicians.

Right from the beginning of "When Life Gives You Lemons," you'll know that Atmosphere is bringing a fresh style into their game. The album opener "Like The Rest of Us," begins the album with an ambient slow singing jam that nearly falls off the edge of Hip Hop and into obscurity. It's a strange opener choice, but it's placement within the album seems to have a deeper meaning hidden beneath many listens (a meaning I have yet to put my finger). Give the album a moment though, and the tone kicks into high gear with "Puppets." Contrary to the strangeness on "Like The Rest of Us," the banging keys on "Puppets" definitely hit.

"The Skinny" is next and is the first of a few more synthesized cuts including "Shoulda Know," "Can't Break," "Your Glasshouse," & "You." These songs are kind of hit or miss (at least to the more typical At. fan). Some are great, but not all of them are up to snuff with the strongest material; and while I do enjoy Slug's adapted delivery, the lyrics -- which universally revolve around storytelling -- aren't as complimentary to the convoluted productions as the simplistic and organic ones. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate what they're trying to do here, but a lot of the time the tone feels like an interruption from the usual and consequently more enjoyable sounds.

After "The Skinny," we start getting into the meat of the album and see a true stand-out with "Dreamer." The song sees Slug weaving the tale of woman's lifelong tribulations into a 4 minute song that leaves out minuscular details in favor of things that suggest a meaningful story we can relate to. On top of Slug's lyrics, Ant creates an aggressive mixture of guitars, drums, and synths that blend with Slug's delivery to create a through and through Atmosphere hit. It's the first example of Slug's poetic and story-telling genius, and it only gets stronger as the album continues. "Yesterday" is the next ace in Slug & Ant's collective effort and will undoubtedly be enjoyed by At. fans, and casual music enjoyers alike. Then you have "Guarantees"; a dope fusion of simple guitar riffs and softer lyrical delivery; "Me", a dramatic tale of a troubled boy growing into a man; and last but not least, we have "The Waitress"; the story of a homeless man's complex connection with a bitter cafe waitress. All of these songs get a certified `classic At' stamp, and are the ready picked lemons on this figurative lemon tree.

"When Life Gives You Lemons" is definitely the kind of album that begs you to play it over and over again. The album is packed with groundbreaking sounds and substance that will offer a different experience to everyone who listens. For that reason, it's bound to be a debated entry in Slug & Ant's near flawless discography, but nonetheless remains a huge growth in the artists' seeming-boundless talent. So with that, I'll give my recommendation.

4 stars - an essential piece for fans of more thoughtful and collected Hip-Hop
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad Clown Good Review, May 2, 2008
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This album explains alot of the 5 track EP's and free albums Slug and Ant released leading up to this release. From track 1 til track 15, this album is a story. Hell, even the track names read as a full sentence if you look. This isn't a party album, but a masterful piece of evidence that true hip-hop is NOT dead.

Kicking off with the piano keys on "Like the Rest of Us" and ending with the anthem for any father that listens to hiphop, "In Her Music Box". The best part of this album, however, isn't the album itself, but the Limited Edition DVD of Sad Clown Bad Dub 13... It's about an hour of live performance's from the last 2 shows in Minneapolis from their previous tour. Alot of the songs from Lemons are run through, but also peppered in with some classics and rare songs like "Say Shhh".

This isn't "mass-consumption" hip-hop. If you still enjoy having rappers tell you about their money, jewels, and how dope they are... go buy a 50 Cent CD and wash your mouth with buckshot. This is the art of storytelling right here... This is Slug and Ant showing us what they do best... incredible music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmosphere has evolved, April 24, 2008
By 
I have read a lot of reviews here. I just wanted to put in my two cents. You probably realize by now that this isn't like there previous releases, but in a way, if you look, you can see how this is where they have been heading for a while now.
I recommend this cd vigorously to any Atmosphere fan. No, its not upbeat, but the music has a certain pull to it. You can listen to "Guarantees" on the rhymesayers website, if you want to get a feel for the mood the album sets. Its not a party album, but an album to put in when your riding by yourself at night or something. If this album doesn't draw you in, then you need to check your pulse. It almost sounds like a "farewell cd" in its own way (which I hope it isn't)
You just have to remember that these guys are in there mid thirties, and lets face it we all like Atmosphere for the realness they bring with them and they represent. You can't expect someone being all "Guns and Cigarettes" at his age. I would guess that most of the more negative reviews are from a younger crowd.
Once you let yourself get into the mood that this release sets, then I think you can appreciate it, for what it is. Probably their best work of art to date.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmosphere aged to perfection, April 24, 2008
By 
first, its unfair to assume that any innovative artist would accomplish much by sticking to the same old formula of past albums. if you cant get past that, you most likely wont like this album.

Slug has matured. when you age, the things that matter to you seems to change. as a artist, this would change your subject matter, unless you were a sell out, and thankfully slug is anything but a sell out.

i welcome the dark, real world feeling this album has. the beats arent mainstream, but i dont think i ever bought into the mainstream since the 80's. i am glad someone is willing to take a chance, and break the ice on a otherwise stagnant genre in music. i enjoy the fact that slug is challenging us all with his lyrics. the stories he tells can withstand the tests of time, much more so than raps about rims and bling.

i think anyone that has collected more than a few albums of atmosphere can see them as chapters in his life. this particular chapter of his life has him wrestling with age in my opinion anyhow. as you age, you have more things to look back on and reflect upon.

the final eye opener on the debate of this album is the title. he is showing us all the lemons that life has given him...
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