[Five Deadly Everythings]

Atmosphere’s "Your Glasshouse"

Posted in break it down, hip-hop, music by Jef on May 12, 2008


Your Glasshouse” from Atmosphere’s “When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold” is another example of Slug’s fondness for taking simplistic sayings or cliches and complicating them with, to use his own words, a dosage of “life, love, stress and setbacks.”

Here, the titular “glasshouse” is a stranger’s crib in which our protaganist has woken up after a night of hard partying and regretfully bad drunken behaviour. “Anyone else would leave but you?/ You crawl back to the bed and fall back asleep” raps Slug, in effect casting stones at the glasshouse with a comfort that lets us know that, although he’s rapping in third person, he’s lived here before.

Ant has really grown as a producer — his beats are more thematically panned-out and sound lusher instead of plodding, augmented by live instrumentation — and “Your Glasshouse” is a great example, where Ant’s main motif is three synth pulses followed incongrously by an ominous bass chord. The result is something like good horror film sequences in that you know the scare (the bass) is coming right around the corner, but it is nonetheless unsettling every single time it rears its ugly head.

The bass is the hangover that results from the synths, and pulsing behind lyrics such as “You don’t want no one to see you like this/ Maybe you don’t recognize it/ But this is your home, this is where your life lives”, it magnifies Slug and makes him resonate in a way he can’t on his own.

For most of the album, Slug forgoes his first-person confessionals and instead opts for a storyteller’s point of view. Unable to resolve his own problems (or perhaps because he already has, in his personal life), he creates fictional characters to move about and observe from a distance. It morphs him from the solitary drunk he’s so often positioned himself as, to the local dive bartender, listening to tales of woe, offering his two cents and providing more libations to keep the mood sombre and mellow instead of violent.

Rapping as a narrator/therapist, he keeps his tone measured and soft, sympathetic and calming. It’s a big change from his typically loud, exact and exaggerated tone, and it lends itself very well to the sing-songy qualities his rhymes often approach. Here, he can actually let himself sing, and it doesn’t come off as just bad rapping.

On the chorus for “Your Glasshouse” he’s practically humming (which he does outright two tracks later on “Guarantees”). He sings: “All we need is because/ So come and party with us/ Take care of you when you’re passed out/ Right there with you in your glasshouse”. Soft and soothing, the hook is the type you can listen to when you’re hungover, but the message is exactly what you don’t want to hear.

When it comes to “with you in your glasshouse”, an extra voice creeps up and yells along with the last word, ruining Slug’s lullaby tone. Along with the random wailing that starts the song and is interspersed throughout, they’re the ghosts of last night, the drunken memories you can sleep off but not forget.

Listen to Your Glasshouse
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