I am currently reading the Human Stain by Philip Roth. If you aren’t familiar with the story it is about a college professor driven to resignation by a supposed racist comment that he makes. It is set in the late nineties, around the time of the possible impeachment of sitting president Bill Clinton. There are a number of mentions of Clinton and his penis issues in the story, as well as some references to the impeachment hearings of Richard Nixon (the professor’s son was for Nixon, the rest of the family wanted to see him hang).
So what does the Human Stain have to do with Atherton, a hip-hop artists from Ottawa, Canada? Atherton was the first student council president to be impeached for being a bad role model. He smoked the weed. This information comes courtesy of a portion of his introductory email called tid-bits of info. It is within these tid-bits that Atherton gets painfully personal (I think?) providing intrusive details such as where he lives (his parents basement), his institutional history (once), medications he’s on (three) and his kitchen specialty (Tandoori Chicken with Seasoned Basmati Rice, Channa Masala and Curried Cauliflower).
These tid-bits would mean nothing if Atherton’s music failed to inspire. They’d just be decorating my email trash. But Atherton has a hip-hop style that kept me coming back for more. His album No Threat (an anagram of his name) just dropped and I had no problem listening to it for a few days straight. It is chock full of energy and rhymes that gather inspiration and samples from many different genres. It also features a number of notable guest performances including Dean Povinsky (Wildlife) and Whitney Delion (Sound of Lions). Some of the most enjoyable moments are provided by “Kid on the Corner” and “True Math” (I’m a teacher, what do you expect). But the stand out track, head and shoulders above the rest, is the one that shares a name with the album title. “No Threat” features indie rock loops reminiscent of MGMT, a catchy chorus, pulsating beats and standout lyrics that touch on the Economy, Vietnam, GI Joe, Joni Mitchell, bumper stickers, kissing the ring of the king, smoking and kerfuffles. After it is all said and done “No Threat” and No Threat both succeed in showing that sometimes the worst role models make the best artistic statements.
While listening to the album (which you can hear and buy here) you can also enjoy a batch of Atherton’s specialty. For his Tandoori Chicken (as told by him): I take some chicken from a store, I like to get that boneless breast, cause I’m fancy like that. Then I go down the aisle containing spices and pick up a pre-mixed tandoori mash-up (cayenne, turmeric, cumin, paprika). THEN I hit up that dairy aisle and get a big tub of plain yogurt. I bring it all home and poke the chicken with a fork to aerate it. Then in a bowl I mix the yogurt with the spice, I’m not sure how much I use, but it’s generally a deep red colour rather than a palely pink. Then I throw that chicken into the the sea of tandoori dopeness and let it sit for as long as I can wait. When the suspense begins to gnaw at the lining of my stomach I throw it on the grill at a medium low flame level until it’s no longer pink in the middle. Serve hot!