Slug Christ shows Atlanta is more than just trap

album

Album: The Crucifixion of Rapper Extraordinaire, Slug Christ

Release date: May 5

Label: Awful Records

Grade: A-

To accompany the release of his new album, Atlanta rapper Slug Christ released a short film entitled Crucifixion Day.

The film has a Blair Witch quality to it and features a woman in a black robe gathering various items in the woods. The plot becomes clearer once it's shown that the women is performing some sort of ritual and before any rapping occurs, a masked Slug Christ is seen climbing out from the ground.

The film is disturbing, esoteric and also a good summation of the atmosphere created on Slug’s new album, The Crucifixion of Rapper Extraordinaire, Slug Christ.

Prior to the smash hit “Tuesday,” Atlanta-based rapper iLoveMakonnen composed his own brand of off-kilter pop songs from the comfort of his own bedroom. iLoveMakonnen’s recent rise to fame and his care-free aesthetic has helped bring attention to Atlanta’s other artists who share a similar mindset. The Crucifixion of Rapper Extraordinaire, Slug Christ is a prime example of how weird and creative Atlanta’s current hip-hop scene is.

Awful Records is a collective of beat makers, rappers and singers who all write and produce their own music. From graphic design to directing, to mixing and mastering their own tracks, Awful Records maintains a do-it-yourself mentality that is seen in their approach to music and heard in the songs they make.

Slug Christ is one of the more unconventional members of the collective and his music combines the playful spirituality of Lil B with the dark undertones of Tyler, the Creator and Three 6 Mafia.

Before he was selling out shows with his Awful contemporaries, Slug Christ attended the Savannah College of Art and Design where he painted surreal landscapes and worked with various bands making experimental electronic music.

In a recent interview with UnderGrind.net, Slug proclaimed that his switch to rapping was natural because of his past experiences with painting in a stream-of-consciousness manner.

“But for myself there’s always an element of freestyle when I’m recording stuff,” Slug said.

In Slug Christ’s newest release, The Crucifixion of Rapper Extraordinaire, Slug Christ, the Atlanta rapper expands his range of religious trap songs by including more electronic and experimental sounds to the mix.

“Why are you standing next to us and not your friends? / You know we see you come in here with all of them / When we weren’t hot you said that it was you with them,” Slug raps on album’s opener, “You with Them.”

The Crucifixion of Rapper Extraordinaire, Slug Christ, starts off by submerging the listener in a series of chants over a chaotic trap instrumental. “You With Them” and many of the other songs on this album display Slug Christ’s unique ability to craft a song from a simple phrase.

A prime example of this would be the minimal “Hokay Hokay Hokay,” where Slug tackles the subject of addiction, while also slurring his signature ad-libs, “yeah,” “damn” and “okay.” Overall, the song feels very deconstructed due to how Slug’s sparse vocals are laid on top of the instrumentation. In other songs, sparseness is used to create odd rhythms where the verse and chorus blend together.

“I got energy bleeding out of me / Oh they want to parasite, the godly / I’m the ocean, you can pollute me / But I’ll always be there,” Slug raps on the haunting “I’m The Ocean.”

On some of the more experimental songs like “Crucifixion Day,” Slug Christ combines his past electronic experimentation with his newer trap influences, creating an eerie atmosphere that sounds right at home in a horror movie.

Other tracks like “They Ask Me” and “Holy Descent to Hell” feature slow atmospheric instrumentation with introspective lyrics on religion and depression. The latter has some singing from Awful Records’ R&B guru, GAHM, which is an acronym for “Greg and his Mew,” according to FACT magazine. The mix of Slug’s rapping and GAHM’s vocals give the song an airy vibe that is not too different from Drake’s album Nothing was the same.

Even though Slug Christ makes unique music, an interesting aspect of his new albumis how Slug reshapes the delivery and subject matter of modern rappers like Drake and Future. Thanks to The Crucifixion of Rapper Extraordinaire, Slug Christ, it can now be argued that Slug Christ isn’t merely a rapper. In fact, it wouldn’t far-fetched to state that Slug Christ is a pop artist who takes the sounds of mainstream hip-hop and reinvents them in his own unsettling, but enlightening way.

Alex Pennington is an arts staff writer and can be contacted at arts@ubspectrum.com