Atmosphere – “Word?” review

This is the 12th full-length album from renown Minneapolis duo Atmosphere. Coming up as a trio in the late 90’s off at their critically acclaimed debut Overcast!, they would later go on to build an independent empire with their Rhymesayers Entertainment label whether that be signing acts from Brother Ali to the late Eyedea or putting out their best bodies of work like God Loves Ugly or Sad Clown Bad Dub 9. But for the last 3 years now, Slug & Ant have been treating their fans to a new album every year starting out with Mi Vida Local. Now with the 1 year anniversary of The Day Before Halloween coming at the end of the month, Atmosphere is continuing their new tradition by dropping Word?.

“Fleetwood” is a rich boom bap opener saying he’s glad he’s not the same person as he once was whereas “Something” thunderously encourages listeners to get back up when pushed down. Evidence & Muja Messiah both come into the picture for the bass guitar-infused “Crumbs” speaking on their obsessive compulsions, but then “Woes” glisteningly details that you can’t love without misery.

Meanwhile on “Strung”, we have Musab accompanying Atmosphere on top of a melodic vocal sample expressing that they’re feeling tense just before “Clocked” is a misty declaration that time is killing us. “Sleepless” works in some keys & hi-hats as Nino Bless tags along to tackle the theme of insomnia leading into the eerie “Distances” pleads to leave him & his family alone.

“Carousel” mesmerizingly talks about wanting to protect myself from his lover’s sting while “Vanish” is a short yet vibrant & funky little freestyle. “Pressed” serves as a tribal posse cut with Anwar HighSign, Lateef the Truthspeaker & Sa-Roc being amongst the best of the 6 while the song “Skull” hauntingly details a night where he or Ant was supposed to die.

The penultimate track “Nekst” works in some acoustics & handclaps airing out someone he loved ending up betraying him, but then “Barcade” with Aesop Rock & the late MF DOOM ends the album with a complete lyrical annihilation with the Hellish beat fitting into the mix ever so flawlessly.

As much as I liked The Day Before Halloween for it’s experimentations, I think the hardcore fans are gonna dig Word? a bit more. Ant takes it back to the duo’s signature sound & Slug’s lyricism is as lighthearted as it was back in their prime almost 2 decades ago.

Score: 3.5/5

Atmosphere – “The Day Before Halloween” review

Atmosphere is an highly regarded duo from Minneapolis, Minnesota consisting of producer Ant & emcee Slug. They’ve released a handful of classics through their label Rhymesayers Entertainment including Lucy Ford, You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having, Sad Clown Bad Dub 9 & my personal favorite: God Loves Ugly. But for the past couple years now, Slug & Ant been grinding like crazy by dropping Mi Vida Local in 2018 & then Whenever last winter. They just put out Felt 4 U with MURS over the summer & now a couple months later, Atmosphere is back with their 11th full-length album.

The album starts off with “Where the Road Forks”, where Slug talks about how he knows he doesn’t articulate himself correctly over a synthesizer heavy instrumental. The next song “Space is Safe” addresses someone who thinks he’s suffering from depression over a demented beat while the track “She Loves My Not” talks about a woman who only misses him when she’s drunk over a frightening instrumental. “The New People” talks about someone who doesn’t give him a reason to live over an portentous beat while “The Future is Disgusting” talks about romance over an 80s-style instrumental.

The song “DoubleTown” discusses how everybody knows somebody, but nobody knows anybody over a grim beat while the track “Stardust” tells everyone to stop biting his rap style over a monstrous instrumental. The song “Blotter Acid Reflux Syndrome” talks about having trouble on his mind over a futuristic beat while the penultimate track “Party Crashers” speaks for itself over a synth-funk instrumental. The album finishes off with “Sleep Apnea”, where Slug talks about how he wouldn’t commit to this chick if he could over an eerie beat.

This is almost as enjoyable as Felt 4 U in my personal opinion. Ant’s production is very synth-heavy except with a darker edge to it & Slug’s paints some very dope imagery from start to finish. Can’t wait to hear where they take things going forward.

Score: 3.5/5

Felt – “Felt 4 U” review

Felt is a duo consisting of underground veterans MURS & Slug. The pair made their debut in late 2002 with a self-titled full-length produced by The Grouch, but would step their game up a lot much more on their 2005 sophomore effort that featured front to back production from Ant. Last we heard from them was in ‘09 with a 3rd album that was entirely produced by Aesop Rock but after a dropping a loosie earlier this week, MURS & Slug are hooking back up with Ant to drop Felt 4 U out of nowhere.

The album kicks off with “Never Enough”, where the duo talk about leveling up over a funky beat. The next song “Find My Way” talks about forever paying the price over an instrumental to cruise down the street to while the track “Don’t Do Me Like That” talks about getting into arguments with their wives over a mellow beat. The song “Trees” sees the 2 trading bars back & forth over a boom bap beat with an organ loop while the track “Through the Night” gets romantic over a sensual instrumental.

The song “Freeze Tag” is a crowd mover with a somewhat disco inspired beat while the track “Sticks & Stones” looks back on their childhoods over a heavenly instrumental. The song “Underwater” gets back on the love side of things over a fittingly aquatic instrumental while the track “Alexander F’real” continues to show their chemistry over a slick beat. The song “Hologram” with The Grouch & Aesop Rock sees the 4 talking about how they don’t give a fuck what people be hollering over what could possibly be the darkest instrumental on the whole album while the penultimate track “Crimson Skies” talk about being at the crossroads over a cinematic boom bap beat. The album finishes with “Borboleta”, where Felt talks about how far they’ve come & how far they have left down the road over an summery instrumental.

These guys have never disappointed me personally & this is a pretty damn good comeback for them. Ant absolutely kills it on the boards whereas both MURS & Slug both sound like they never left because the way they compliment each other is still as fantastic as ever.

Score: 4/5

Atmosphere – “Whenever” review

This is the surprise 10th full-length album from revered Minneapolis emcee/producer tag team Atmosphere. Who’ve released a handful of classics through their label Rhymesayers Entertainment including Lucy FordYou Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re HavingSad Clown Bad Dub 9 & then of course God Loves Ugly. Last time we heard from them was with Mi Vida Local last October, but they’re finishing off the decade with Whenever.

The opener “Bde Maka Ska” finds Slug talking about serenity over a boom bap beat with a killer guitar lead whereas the next song “Push Play” tells the story of him meeting this chick over a tense instrumental. The track “Postal Lady” talks about a day in the life of Slug over a sensual funky beat while the song “Love Each Other” talks about if he was woman’s lover over a buttery instrumental. The track “Romance” talks about just that over a spacious instrumental while the song “Dearly Beloved” with Mujah Messiah as well as Rhymesayers co-founder Musab continues the themes of love over a smooth instrumental.

“The Hands of Time” vents about heartache over what I believe is a sitar sample while the titular song with Gifted Gab, Haphduzn & MURS is a decent 4 minute cypher with a warping instrumental. The track “Lovely” is another funky romance anthem while the song “Son of Abyss” talks about how he can’t believe he used to love this chick over a gloomy beat. The penultimate track “You’re Gonna Go” talks about this chick who he’s not afraid to admit he loved over a piano instrumental & then there’s the closer “The Ceiling”, where Slug talks about working his whole life over a ghostly instrumental.

This was a pretty solid effort from the duo. Ant’s production is really mellow & the album’s theme of reclamation is invigorating. Really looking forward to see what the 2 are gonna be doing going into the new decade.

Score: 3.5/5

Atmosphere – “Mi Vida Local”

Atmosphere is an renown independent hip hop duo from Minneapolis, Minnesota consisting of producer Ant & MC Slug. They’ve released a handful of classics through their label Rhymesayers Entertainment including Lucy Ford, You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re HavingSad Clown Bad Dub 9 & my personal favorite: God Loves Ugly. Last time we heard from them was with with Fishing Blues in summer of 2016 but now, they’re finally returning with their 9th full-length album.

Things start off with “Jerome”, where Slug introspectively talks about being underground & depression over an organ & a guitar. The next track “Stopwatch” talks about is an empowering rap rock anthem while the song “Virgo” talks about the current political over an acoustic instrumental. The track “Delicate” goes in the mind of a young Atmosphere fan over a smooth instrumental while the song “Drown” with Cashinova, deM atlaS & The Lioness talks about depression once again a somber boom bap beat.

The track “Anymore” talks about deceiving people over a gloomy guitar while the song “Earring” with Musab sees the 2 talking about cheating women over an alluring soul sample. The track “Trim” is a laidback love tune with synth heavy instrumental while the song “Specificity” does have an angry tone to it, I wish it was a little longer. The track “Mijo” vividly describes his love for his children over a spacey instrumental while “Randy Mosh” is an AMAZING Dynospectrum reunion. The album then finishes with “Graffiti”, which is a positivity anthem with an empowering instrumental.

Honestly, this might be Atmosphere’s best album of the decade & one of their best albums period. Primarily because both lyrically & sonically, Slug & Ant pretty much show us how much they’ve matured over the years.

Score: 4/5