Tom Waits isn’t usually thought of in hip hop circles. But the idiosyncratic singer-songwriter turned up there this year, when he performed a guest beat-box on “The Waitress” from the Minneapolis duo Atmosphere’s six studio album, “When Life Gives You Lemons.”
“I’m friends with one of his sons,” explains MC Sean “Slug” Daley, who formed Atmosphere in 1993 with DJ Anthony “Ant” Davis. “One day out in California I said to him, ‘We’ve been friends for a while. Do you think I could finally ask you to hook me up with your dad without feeling like I’m exploiting you?’ He goes, ‘No problem’ and hooks it up.”
Having Waits beatbox, however, was the last thing Daley expects.
“He said ‘Send me the song. I’ll sing the chorus,’” Daley recalls. “I even sang it on there for him to follow but told him he could write his own chorus if he doesn’t like it.
“So he sends it back and I rip open the package — I was so excited I didn’t even take off my coat — ran into the basement and popped it into the (CD) player. And he didn’t even sing! I thought, ‘Wow, this is ... perfect. This is exactly the way for this to go down. Rather than saying Tom sings on this record, I’ve got this cute story about how I asked him to sing and he sent it back beatboxing instead.”
Daley is, by the way, ready to return the favor any time Waits asks.
“The deal was he does this for me, and if he decides he wants me to rap on one of his songs, that’s totally ... cool,” Daley says. “Of course, if that ever happens then instead of rapping I’m gonna play oboe and send it back to him ...”
The Paint the Nation Tour with Atmosphere, Abstract Rude, Blueprint and Rare Groove plays Monday (Oct. 26) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $22 day of show. Call (248) 399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.
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