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Atmosphere, ‘When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That S–t Gold’ (Rhymesayers)

“I needed to scare myself,” Slug has said of his indie-rap duo’s sixth album. But instead of the brutally raw introspection for which he’s known, the garrulous MC exorcises his subconscious through jarring metaphors and fictional narratives. When he raps about pimping on “The Skinny,” he’s referring to his smoking habit. The vicious hangover on “Your Glasshouse” is the uneasy birth of his political awareness. Producer Ant stirs in jazzy piano riffs, lap-steel guitars, and ominous ’80s synth passages. Add some beatboxing courtesy of Tom Waits (!), and you have an occasionally forced, yet boldly magnetic change of pace.