An Interview with Sean Daly

As the front man for one of the most successful underground hip-hop groups to date, Slug has garnered national and international praise for Seven’s Travels, Atmosphere’s latest album. As a leading voice in what can accurately be defined as one of the most influential major popular art movement of our time, Slug has positioned himself in a distinctly different way than many of his contemporaries, e.g. Talib Kwali, Aesop Rock, et al. It was this aspect of Slug’s persona that made the following interview attractive and ultimately plausible. We spoke about everything from Jack Black, to trees, and touched on contemporary hip-hop and its manifestations. Sean Daly came across as uncomfortably comfortable, demonstrating a rounded edge, that seems to fit with what he described as mid-west insecurity regarding the cultural variations and manifestations of hip-hop.

VC: What’s your take on America and American politics today?

Slug: I’m frustrated and a little nervous. Especially with George Bush weighing in on the whole abortion thing. I tend to get distracted when I focus too much on it, but even Minnesota, one of the hippiest states, has now become conservative. The problem, I think, is that liberals are too scattered. There is a time and a place for everything and I think, that I’ll say exactly what I want when the time is right. I think that when you go about it that way you tend to preach to the choir. I don’t want to do that, so instead of giving you vegetables, I’ll put some frosting on them first so you’ll eat them. I try to write songs about girls, and human songs. But ultimately an artist does have a responsibility to their art and the world. Have you seen School of Rock?

VC: No.

Slug: Jack Black just does a f*cking great job of showing that. I took my nine year old son to see it and he loved it. He even wants a guitar now, but if you can take a little kid to see that movie because it really shows what artist responsibility is.

VC: What do you think of mainstream hip-hop?

Slug: I love hip-hop. I love all kinds of hip-hop, everything from Nelly to Outkast to KRS One. Hip-hop is like a tree, and we’re [Atmosphere] one branch of that tree. Mainstream hip-hop has a couple branches. You know, it’s different strokes for different folks; because of the Ying, there has to be room for the Yang. You know, it’s like I used to think f*ck yogurt man, I like ice cream. But there’s room for both. I’ve met a lot of kids that think that way, that say they haven’t listened to hip-hop since De la Soul. We’re [Atmosphere] a gateway drug, and you’ll start by smoking Atmosphere and before you know it you’ll be shooting Brother Ali.

VC: What do you think about how The Boston Phoenix called you the next Will Smith in a review they wrote last year?

Slug: Oh yeah, they made fun of me. I’m willing to take all kinds of criticism, both positive and negative. Around that time Cloud Dead….. their was a weird thing between us and the Phoenix had said he was a better MC or something like that. I mean, I encourage all types of comments. It didn’t really upset me too much, because I’m not trying to play to anyone, that’s the great thing about hip-hop , I don’t have to try to be the dopest lyricist or even the tightest MC, I just have to be myself. So, I didn’t get too upset because I’m just being myself.

VC:What was it like making Felt: A Tribute to Christina Ricci with MURS? Is there another Felt in the making?

Slug: There actually is another Felt that we’ll be working on starting in either December or January. We dedicated that album to Christina Ricci hoping that we could get a kiss from her, or at least a letter from her lawyer, but nothing ever happened. I think we’re going to dedicate the next Felt to Drew Barrymore, because MURS and I have become little celebrities that one of us could probably f*ck Drew Barrymore. That’s our next goal.VC: How is Mid-West hip-hop different from East Coast or West Coast hip-hop?

Slug: There’s an insecurity to mid-west hip-hop that hip-hop coming from New York doesn’t have. New York lives, breathes, and walks hip-hop. It’s the f*cking Mecca. Kids in the mid-west have usually grown up around farms and shit, but the mid-west has kids practicing all four elements of hip-hop. That doesn’t even happen in places likes Los Angeles and New York. The mid-west I think works hard at proving their love to hip-hop, and they don’t take it for granted the way it is in places like New York, because it’s constantly in your face.

VC: Is hip-hop an art form or a business?

Slug: Both. Just like all art it’s both, and there are people who get into hip-hop because they don’t want to work at McDonalds, and there are other people who get into it because they are into hip-hop and they take it other places.

VC: Like El-P with Def Jux?

Slug: Exactly.

VC: Why won’t MURS play in San Diego? (Editor’s note: ACCESS, the Living Legends store is based in San Diego)

Slug: (laughter) You’d have to ask him.