Confession. I hate hip-hop. The beats are repetitive, unimaginative to the point it may as well be techno. Lyrically, it only (mis)treats drugs, abuse, and violence. There no true musicianship behind rap, nothing that makes me want to learn an instrument or be a better artist. Welcome to early 2003, or as I call, the pre-Slug & Ant époque of my music listening history. Months later, a best friend who shared a common appreciation for Midwest punks Alkaline Trio and Apocalypse Hoboken shocked me with, “Hey, have you heard of Slug? He’s a rapper from the Twin Cities.” Slug, what kind of name is that. Rapper, um…no. Twin Cities, … okay, got my me-growing-up-in-Hennepin County attention, I’ll give it a chance. In 2009, Atmosphere tops my Last.fm Overall Artist listens with runners-up Ratatat separated by nearly 200 listens. What happened?!
I forced myself to listen to Slug, wanting to like his music solely for the fact he resides in the coolest (figuratively and literally) place in the Midwest, Minneapolis. Through him, that schematic that all rap must be violent and gang-focused was shredded, burned, and buried. The beats being dull? Well, that misconception was soundly defeated to the heavy production and lyricism of one Manhattan-based emcee/producer Aesop Rock. So when “Protagionists” hit the internet tubes harder than the Hadron Collider, those musical gauges focused on Slug & Murs instantly, skeptically pointed to Aes. The following Red Rocks unveil confirmed that too-good-to-be-true moment, revealing indeed the two main artists who shattered my prior hip-hop hatred were united for the third Felt, A Tribute to Rosie Perez. Expectations were so high I forced myself to bring them back down, until ten seconds of “She Sonnet” beats made those efforts futile.
A Tribute to Rosie Perez could have been another example of infamous supergroups stumbles, but the trio avoids tangling themselves up by artistic egos. Although long, the Slug, Murs and Aesop duo plus uno lend distinct pieces to the most memorable of all Felt chapters. No quarreling moments, no spotlight grabbing-what I hoped for. Just three of the most talented artists in rap working and succeeding in reinvigorating, lifting Felt from perceived side-project status to “my wallet is demanding when the tour will be.”