As the making of Atmosphere's latest CD came to an end, Ant gave Slug a fast but brooding rhythm track that "sounded like something I wasn't supposed to write a song to," the rapper recalled.
Ant's response, Slug said, "was that I should write a song I wasn't supposed to write."
The result is "That Night," a landmark recording in the Atmosphere discography, one that should forever dismiss Slug's reputation for only writing sarcastic or "emo" lyrics.
Since July 2003, Slug held onto the story of Marissa Mathy-Zvaifler, a 16-year-old girl murdered at an Atmosphere show in Albuquerque, N.M. She was strangled by the janitor at the club, a convicted pedophile who said he could take the teenager backstage to meet Slug.
"Don't even know if I can write this song," the track begins. "This ain't for props or pop culture/ It's about a balloon that got punctured."
As Slug raps about his own reactions -- he truly wanted to stop the tour and go home -- he, of course, comes to sympathize with the girl's friends and family: "When I think about her mother, I become another number that wants you to suffer."
Ant was the first to hear the finished song. "I didn't know how to react," he said. "Which was a sign that it definitely should be [on the record]."
Slug is still uneasy with "That Night." He hates that the incident has become a hot-button issue in New Mexico politics. Some officials are even trying to outlaw all-ages club shows. He also is still concerned about the family's reaction to the song. (Only Marissa's friends have sent positive feedback.)
For those reasons and a more personal reluctance, he won't perform "That Night" live. "That song still scares the piss out of me," he said.