A quick guide to: Atmosphere

The other day I was talking to one of our readers and he mentioned that he liked a few of Atmosphere’s tracks but he hadn’t looked into them properly yet. Luckily for him, and hopefully for you, he was talking to a big Atmosphere fan. So here starts a whirlwind tour of some of the choicest tracks from the duo.

Ant and Slug

Atmosphere comprises of rapper Slug (real name Sean Daley) and DJ Ant (Anthony Davis). Over the last 16 years they’ve formed one of the best hip hop duos I’ve ever come across. They were originally joined by third member Spawn (Derek Turner) but he soon moved on to other things. Slug and Ant began by writing what some call emo-rap.

Now, before you recoil in horror, its not actual emo music.

Those who mistakenly labelled it ’emo’ did so because they had no idea how to label hip hop that had real emotional content. Slug’s lyrics, partially about himself and partially about characters he creates, often delve into pyschological problems such as depression, paranoia, low self-esteem, and relationship issues. To an outside eye its easy to go ‘thats emo shit man’ but if you listen to the music you’ll realise its really clever. This has been the core to Atmosphere’s music to date, although there are some huge (and brilliant) exceptions. To give you a good introduction to this theme here is a track from their album Lucy Ford.

To continue along this vein, another one of their best tracks is God’s Bathroom Floor, featured on their album Overcast! I guess this track is the best one to listen to if your pissed out of your head staring at your computer screen and feeling sorry for yourself. Pushing that stigma aside, its a brilliant track with Slug showing just how good his lyrical capabilities are. When you listen to this track and any other from Atmosphere you’ll notice just how good he is. He seems to be talking to you without any noticeable rhymes coming through, and yet it flows perfectly. This is why I think he’s the best rapper I’ve ever heard. If he hadn’t stayed true to his roots he would be a lot bigger now. Tough choice to make.

Here is a fan-made video, which has sadly been taken down from youtube as it contains clips from trainspotting, but which showcases the track perfectly. Check it out here.

Moving onto their latest album, their sound has evolved to contain a lot more bass. Their latest album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, features a bunch of scenarios which don’t relate as much to Slug’s life as their early albums, but the characters he creates in the songs are still well worth checking out. Although the topics are hardly positive the backing music is much more upbeat, and opens them up to a wider audience. Prepare for a corker of a track with this one:

Aside from their main albums, they’ve done a whole load of other stuff along the Sad Clown line. I haven’t had the time to check it all out – and there is a lot of it – but I’ve come across three great tracks from the ones I’ve checked out. First up is Lyndale Ave. Users Manual. Supposedly about a street in Minneapolis, its a short but good track. Enough waffle, here you go.

Next up from the series is one which I’m sure all the bombers out there can relate to. Some may even wish the outcome with the cop happened to them. It’ll probably never happen but what the heck.

Last up in this trio is a track you have to listen to. This track is perfect for summer, especially those who are happy to abuse their livers every now and again. I won’t spoil the narrative but this is the anthem to waking up hungover on a beautiful summers day.

Editing down the entire Atmosphere discography to a few tracks has been very painful for me as there are at least a dozen more tracks which should be in here. However, saying that, there is only one album which deserves to be featured as the final tracks. This album was made for free by Atmosphere and is a lot more upbeat than the majority of their stuff. I think they decided to have a bit of fun, put together a few tracks, and released an album for free. You can download Strictly Leakage here and to give you an idea of what you’ll be getting here is Get It To Get Her, dedicated to Dan A.

After having a quick browse through the album I realised it contains another cool track I can’t bear to leave out, one which any white kid living in suburbia/a middle-class lifestyle can relate to. I know it in parts applies to myself, Joe and maybe even Dan. Here it is.

To wind up the post, here is a link to Rhymesayers Entertainment, a label setup by Slug and Ant. Along with that label, here is a link to their latest free album, one which I’m going to start bumping as soon as I’ve finished this.

This entry was posted in Hip hop and tagged by Phil. Bookmark the permalink.

About Phil

Founder of @ThePhonograph, ex MD of @TheYorkerUK, and Associate at a Strategy Consultancy firm. You can find him over on @PhilipMace tweeting about many (obviously) important things... but mainly his annoyance/love of the Philadelphia Eagles.

One thought on “A quick guide to: Atmosphere

  1. Pingback: Possibly the best festival I’ve heard of: Rock the Bells « The Music Diaries

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