Of all the talented MCs to come out of the vast underground Hip-Hop scene in Chicago, Pugs Atomz has quietly gained worldwide notoriety with an almost negligent presence stateside – something that’s usually the case with artists of this sort. The prolific Chi- Town product has released several projects since the year 2000, culminating with his latest release, The Decade – a collection of unreleased or rare tracks sprinkled with some fresh tunes recorded over the course of the last ten years.
After a brief intro, the lead single “No Baby” gets things off to a fair start. Featuring the vocal talents of female MC Psalm One, Atlanta’s Senor Kaos and MC Adad, the playful verses from the rappers are centered around the dating game, or to be literal, the pursuit of carnal conquest. The track from Mulatto Patriot is standout while the MCs do their best to stay on topic. “Memorial” featuring Deuce Eclipse and Philadelphia MC Dave Ghetto suffers from a busy, overloud track that otherwise drowns out the strong rhymes of the MCs. Dave Ghetto’s anchor performance stands out easily as the best. “Griffen” features perhaps the strongest of the sample-based tracks present on the LP and Pugs makes it work by rapping about some aspects of his creative process. The rhymes aren’t overwhelming but along with the excellent backing track, the song achieves a mark. Skip worthy tracks like “Tear In Your Eye” and “Off Switch” suffer from average rhymes and production to boot, the latter of the two employing a strong track that Simeon and Wes Restless do nothing to enhance. “They Ain-t” featuring Anton Genius is another stinker with a fantastic track. The underwhelming rhymes and lackluster hook completely ruin what could have been.
“Winners” featuring New York producer/MC 6th Sense finally gives the listeners something worthy. The bouncy track is in total tandem with the MCs strong vocals which focus on their respective cities, and the jazzy production is a total head nod- inducing banger. “Carried Away” is a piano-laced track featuring Pugs’ side group, The Gent$ (Ill Legit, Wes Restless). Wes’ soulful vocals propel the song while the MCs love focused raps fit right in the pocket. “Hey Ya’ll” is another frustrating, almost good track that features the raps from The Primeridian (Race and Simeon). As the track builds, it becomes a bit more tolerable but there’s nothing that would make one commit this track to memory or a shuffle list. The LP’s closer, “All City” featuring Trixter, is a strong track that all but drowns out Pugs’ vocals. The tinny quality of the raps almost hurt the song but the production from DJ Intel help save the song from deletion’s doom. The Decade isn’t intended to be seen as a complete representation of Pugs Atomz and his level of talent. However, if one uses this collection as a primer, they could walk away with an unfair portrayal of a humble, hardworking MC that deserves a better showing than what is presented.