Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Flicker” by Atmosphere from the 2014 album Southsiders on Rhymesayers Entertainment.
Like the views expressed in The Family Sign and You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having, most of the tracks on Atmosphere‘s new album Southsiders display self-reflective, introspective takes on Slug’s past, his feelings of melancholy, and his growing domestic life. Slug’s self-established art-collective, Rhymesayers Entertainment, since its inception in 1995, has been a solid platform for demoing and promoting emergent artists, like Slug himself. Later on, Rhymesayers proved to be a terrific meeting-place for underground rap groups to collaborate, like Brother Ali, Aesop Rock, and Eyedea & Abilities. In fact, Slug first signed Eyedea (a.k.a. Michael Larsen) to his record label in 2001, eventually helping him produce First Born. Moreover, Slug and Eyedea fostered a creative relationship over the years they knew each other, collaborating and making appearances on multiple tracks together. Their relationship lasted until October of 2010, when Eyedea died as a result of opiate toxicity. Now, four years later, Slug’s back with a testament to their artistic alliance and a lament for the loss of Eyedea.
Titled “Flicker,” today’s Song of the Day presents itself as a poignant representation of the psychological wake that a surprising death leaves behind. Imbued with passion, nostalgia, and painful loss, Slug raps, “All the trials and suffering we shared with each other / A lot of people thought that we were actually brothers. / You know me, you know I’m a control freak. / Who told you, you could die before me?” Armed with a catchy hook, the song’s ready to take on even the most convoluted of feelings, executing itself with an unabashed reverence for the late songwriter.
Atmosphere is currently touring, and they’ll be in Seattle at the Showbox Sodo on the 13th of September. In the meantime, buy your tickets, and check out this video of Slug and Eyedea free-styling on The Wake Up Show in 2008, two years before Michael Larsen passed away.