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What keeps MC Slug of Atmosphere motivated?

After years of pioneering indie hip-hop, why does keep MC Slug keep going? Enthusiastic fans, odd metaphors and the skills to pay the bills — literally.

Sean Daley, known to many as MC Slug of indie hip-hop outfit Atmosphere, is driving around a lake near his home in Minneapolis.

“Holy s—, that’s a statue of a unicorn,” Slug suddenly exclaims. Given that this is an area he drives through most days, we wonder if there really is a unicorn or if it’s, um, his imagination.

“Yes, I’m sober,” he corrects. “It looks like it’s made of copper and it looks like a, well, a younger person made it. But it’s gone now; I’ve driven past it. I drove around this lake yesterday — it wasn’t there then.”

It’s not every day a unicorn appears out of nowhere, after all.

“There’s plenty of worse things that could be there,” the 38-year-old says. “See, that’s a metaphor for my indie rap career — my veteran indie rap career,” he says referring to the topic of conversation before the great mythological beast appeared. The question was, after years of pioneering indie hip-hop, what keeps him motivated?

“It’s a blessing that this is what I get to do. The fact that these people,” he says, referring to fans, “allow us to keep doing it is more than enough motivation. Somebody out there appreciates that we do this. So let’s keep doing it.”

It must be a ‘Sign’

April saw Atmosphere release “The Family Sign,” another piece in a long, successful career. Success being relative, of course: “As a child, this was a dream. Granted, the dream is a little different from the reality. But the reality is better because I can stop into a coffee shop and not be hounded by strangers. On the other hand, I’m not freaking out about where I’m going to find the money to pay my electrical bill.”

 
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