Vinyl Review: Atmosphere’s “God’s Bathroom Floor”
The Minneapolis rap titan’s fan favorite track has been remastered and pressed to vinyl
I remember as a teenage old-school rap fanatic utilizing an MP3 converter on my laptop to download “God’s Bathroom Floor” to my iTunes. The sound was grainy, Slug’s voice sounded like he was rapping under a blanket with a flashlight to illuminate his deep, poetic soliloquies to me. The jazzy backed beats were unlike any rap song I’d heard at the time. Sure I had heard jazz raps beforehand but this track simultaneously sounded like a band had recorded the song with them but I could also picture the producer in a dark studio looping the beat. It was lo-fi greatness to my ears. All of these facets came together to open my eyes to a dark corner of the world which I’m now ever conscious of as it surrounds me but thankfully never touches: heroin addiction.
The song remained a favorite of mine, to me it was the definition of underground hip hop. It not only painted a narrative within the song but also of how this stuff was produced. Closing my eyes I picture a dark recording studio, maybe even someone’s room converted into one, and an inspired and hungry rapper spewing his verses across the beautiful dreamy beat. Hopes and Dreams filling the room, some coming crashing down, others going into the stratosphere. This is the hip hop I came to love and I still love to this day.
After listening to the song constantly over a number of years streaming services came to be a thing in my life and I deleted all the Atmosphere songs off my iTunes… except for “God’s Bathroom Floor.” There was some attachment to that time in my life listening to it in my high school hallways or as I wandered community college. I was just alone, lost and confused during those times and. I also had to keep it because it was the only Atmosphere song that wasn’t on any sites. I had to save it because there was no way I was getting the download back if I ever deleted it.
Ten or eleven years after I first came across “God’s Bathroom Floor” the duo have remastered the track and released it on vinyl for it’s 25th Anniversary. Once I saw the advertisement I knew I had to get the vinyl, feeding both my newfound love of collecting and the love I have for the song.
Scrolling through Spotify just after the remastered song was released I found the track on the service and was hesitant to give it a listen. Would it be as good as the one on my iPod? The download I had contained so much character that I’d come to love about it. There was such a special aura the old 360p YouTube video had. I was a different kid back then, the only thing I look back on fondly about those days is my music. After some debilitation I grabbed my old iPod Nano and gave the track a listen, it felt like I hadn’t visited it in years and it still carried the same weight to it. I loved it. Now it was time to hear the remastered version.
The familiarity of the opening hypnotic music box sounding opening flooded my ears again, a little more impactful and clean this time, the moody jazz saxophone following after it sounded again like it was coming from a club band in some dive. Slug came in a little bit clearer this time.
“Head. Pressure. Senses. Clutch.
Date. Divinity. Wouldn’t. Fuck.
Touched. Hazy. God. Change.
Rush. Floor. Life.”
Then once Slug started into his flow it hit me harder than the track ever did before. The vocals sounded as though they’d stepped over the beat, no longer subdued. All the years I’d listened to the original mix I kind of liked the buried vocals, like he was hiding his dark secret but felt comfortable enough to tell us. It gave me chills when he came through this time though, his voice not as powerful as it is on Atmospheres classics but he sounded like he emerged from his hiding place. No longer ashamed, it carried his intricate and poetic raps further than they already were. I loved this experience.
When the 7” arrived I couldn’t wait to place it on my turntable and anxiously await the needle to hit the record. Closing my eyes I was transported into another world, like I arrived at where I first traveled to when we were introduced and was taken further into the cosmos. Isn’t that what rap has the capability to do? Take us even further into another world of thought? I’m glad the experience didn’t taint the song in my memory, it’s a special one for me.
Flipping the 7” on to side B and hearing the live version of the song was a welcome addition as well. Harkening back to the songs legacy it established being only played live and through word of mouth. I know Slug likes to stay in the present and not really perform songs from the old days but the few times he does break these ones out you can tell he really loves them. And we all do as well. Listening to the live version in this quarantine is about the closest we’ll currently get to the great experience and that makes me appreciate side B even more.
The art on the cover is very much in tune with how I pictured the song over the decade or so I had heard it. Slug on the floor of his bathroom in a daze, staring up at his ceiling, staring at things no one else can see. It’s a great artwork for the single.
I never doubt Atmosphere especially with their classics, I was a bit hesitant to come in to this song mostly because I was afraid of bringing back memories from the years gone by. But thankfully the music I had back then stands the test of time, reminds me of the good feelings I had back then and carries them into today. I think that’s why I like this remaster so much.