Skip to main content

Atmosphere Embarks on "The Family Vacation" Tour

There are few reputations that stand up to scrutiny in the music industry. There are even fewer that stand up to that same scrutiny in the amorphous and mired world of indie hip-hop. Dessa Darling told me once that the idea of indie or mainstream in today’s lyrical landscape is a moot point. With digital distribution and the social networking of the internet age, indie doesn’t mean unknown, it means independent. This definition is not more apparent than with legends of the industry like Atmosphere, flagship and founding artists of Rhymesayers Entertainment, who hand-carved their niche of the rap world, cementing their legacy with EP’s, LP’s, free downloads, and seemingly endless tours across the world. From Minne-hopelessness, Minne(snow)ta, Slug and Ant are bringing their unquestionable talents to Los Angeles in their Greek Theatre debut on the second leg of the Family Vacation Tour on August 26, with Rhymesayers family members Evidence, Blueprint, and DJ Babu in a show that the smart money is betting will be sold out not to long after $35 tickets go up for sale.
My journey with Atmosphere began years ago laying on the grass in Alaska. It was the summer of 2005 and as I stared up at the clouds in a light blue sky on the Kenai Peninsula, I heard the beats of Ant wander out through the open windows of the house I was staying at with 20 other people for the summer. Will, an old friend now, had put on “God Loves Ugly,” and I rose from the grass in wonder.
“What is that?” I asked.
“Atmosphere.” Will responded.

It was over after that. I went inside and just listened. Will then let me borrow “Seven’s Travels” and he had to pry them both from my hands at the end of the summer. I bought up everything I could find of theirs on my weekly trips to Anchorage. Fast forward to that winter and I found myself in Wisconsin driving the two hours to Milwaukee to see Slug and Ant perform at the Pabst Blue Ribbon Theater with future favorites of mine: Mac Lethal, Joe Good, Los Nativos, and an albino Muslim named Brother Ali.

That summer so many years ago, led not just to those two albums and a fandom of Rhymesayers, but opened my mind to socially and emotionally-conscious hip-hop artists of many stripes. Black Clover and DOOMTREE records rounded out my record label favorites and I have been on an album buying bender over the years. Atmosphere was the catalyst for an eye-opening ride in to the bowels of hip-hop obscurity to mine lyrical and musical gold. I have been defined by the music I listen to, as many of you have, and it all began on the grass at mile marker 45.5 in 2005 and a little album called God Loves Ugly.

I now own just about everything by everyone on any one of the labels mentioned, but my diehard status for Atmosphere is still at the heart of my indie-fan status. The Rhymesayers family is not just the artists on the label, but everyone from friends and family to the fans themselves; we’re all a family. In this manner, Atmosphere shows are more of a reunion than concert. Among the fans there is the regular battle for who is a bigger fan, but you feel like you’re always among friends. Slug and Ant perform their musical catharsis knowing that at any moment they could just cut the track off and let the audience finish the last two minutes as a collective. It is not just two turn tables and a microphone, either. Oh, Ant is there, don’t get me wrong, but Atmosphere brings the whole band along for a truly live show. It is something of an event to hear your favorite rap bangers performed with the accompaniment of horns, guitars, drums (the original beat machine), and keys.

Atmosphere is a fearless group. Ant and Slug have never shied away from taking risks together, with side projects, or in solo albums. The sound they have now has classic Atmosphere at its core, but it is music made by grown-ass-men who are wiser and more retrospective in their creations. One can see a clear shift in sound from the likes of “Lucy Ford: The Atmosphere EP’s” to their newest album, “The Family Sign.” Both albums are vividly personal and honest in their tracks, but with their latter albums there seems to be a man looking back fondly, and not the man scowling forward in defiance of the former. Atmosphere has now established themselves as mythical monoliths in the industry, regularly sell-out entire tours, and often times before they play the first show. That aside, the success, they are men with families, crews, people who love them, hate them, have hurt them, and those who have saved them. This newest album is a reflection on the people in their lives and addresses that “family” is as much about loyalty as it is about blood. All the years in the game have created men whose music reflects the wisdom and perspective that comes with the age time begets.


This is one thing I see in this band, I see in myself, that I find in few other groups. When I was 20 and heard tracks like “Trying to Find a Balance” and “Fuck You Lucy,” I was that guy - that angst-filled post-teen with the weight of the world on my shoulders and in my heart. I felt my struggle echoed by an MC and a DJ. I felt that the swagger, the satire, and the crass editorializing of life found in those tracks were my theme music. I can listen to “You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having,” and I get the nostalgia-whiplash that comes from having these tracks burned in to your daily life. Now, years later, I can listen to “The Family Sign” and I feel that same mirrored image, again. I can feel the love, the heartbreak, and the great appreciation for those that took the journey with us to get to the places where we are. There is no replacing those down-and-outer moments that people dusted us off after. It took a village to get us to where we are and those that burned the bridges can just fuck off and enjoy their island.

These two men are about 40 now. They have been proving and re-proving their prolific skills since the early nineties. No one’s been betting on them falling off, but you expect it in the back of your mind. Waiting for that disappointing album, that lack of heart maybe, it hasn’t come yet. Their fan base is thick as thieves and are the ones for whom each new album stands as a dog-eared page in the book of life, more than just an EP or an LP. Atmosphere is at the center of every midwest hip-hop fan’s discovery process. I doubt you can find a single act that didn’t have a brush with Atmosphere in their career just before they broke out. They are the Kevin Bacon of hip-hop today; it’s always less than six jumps to get to them. Slug and Ant sit atop an empire that Spawn, a former group member, called “a pursuit that seemed so insurmountable.”

Atmosphere has an accessibility and an appreciation for their (fan)ily that bands of this stature often let go to their heads. This is indeed a show the fans already know about, having marked the date on their calendars in big red letters. If you’re a casual listener, then I suggest you get your tickets ASAP, because guys like me won’t let those tickets sit unclaimed any longer than it takes to whip out our debit cards or find a babysitter.


Addendum: If you don’t think this enough to bring you out for a ridiculous show, then remember that they are bringing with them Evidence, Blueprint, DJ Babu, and special guests. The entirety of this line-up will be putting on a hip-hop clinic. Blueprint’s newest album, “Adventures in Counter-Culture,” is an apathetic commentary on a pop-obsessed culture. Riddled with cynicism and shots taken at a sad political landscape, Blueprint is an eye-opening, conscious rapper who will make you bob your head and raise your hands along with the experimental beats. The single “Radio-Inactive” will drop your jaw, friends.


Oh yeah, and there is the LA-native, and new signee to Rhymesayers, Evidence along with fellow Dilated Peoples band member DJ Babu. Evidence is a Grammy-winning producer from Venice and brings the LA hip-hop sound with a cogent commentary that few can mess with on his level. The man, Michael, has the LA look, too. With the hoodied fans he has, he could easily get lost in the sea of like-dressed, and minded, individuals. But it is less about the look and more about rapping and creating music that connects with people that drives Michael, who is perpetually grinding it out in the studio with “Cats & Dogs” or even his collaboration with The Alchemist, on “Stepbrothers.”


Visit www.rhymesayers.com to find out more information on tickets, about the artists, and more dates on the tour.



About the Author


Wesley Bauman, author of Doggy Paddling in the Deep End, is a writer/photojournalist originally from Oregon who makes his home in Ventura, CA. He's contributed to the VCReporter and maintains an active blog (http://projectpoppycock.com/) where he writes on political and social satire regularly. Follow Wesley on Twitter @myownfalseidol


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

2017 EXXXOTICA Expo Dates and Locations Announced

Riding high off its most successful event to date in Edison, New Jersey, the EXXXOTICA Expo presented by MyFreeCams is already looking forward to 2017 with a trio of events planned around the country. In addition to its longstanding shows in Chicago and New Jersey, the show’s producers are pinning a new city on its map — Denver, Colorado for EXXXOTICA Mile High.


EXXXOTICA’s debut in the Rocky Mountains has been in the works for years, and event organizers couldn’t be more excited to bring the show to Denver. The 2017 show schedule kicks off in grand style with EXXXOTICA Mile High, March 31 through April 2, 2017. The show will be taking place as a full hotel takeover at the Crowne Plaza Denver Airport Convention Center.
With nearly 100,000 square feet of exhibition and breakout space, EXXXOTICA Mile High will not only feature hundreds of exhibitors and the top stars in adult, as well as seminars and performers, but the hotel will be transformed into the hottest hotel in the country wi…

BEAUTIFUL RIGHTS Gives Women’s Rights Some Real Lip Service

Beautiful Rights is here to give women’s rights some real lip service. This new, cause-driven makeup initiative, founded by renowned makeup artist and product developer, Kristen Therese Leonard, was created to ensure that women’s rights continue to be given their share of voice in our country’s future.

As we enter into 2017, real concerns regarding women’s rights are upon us. Beautiful Rights was created to remind every woman to speak up, and that the responsibility lies within each of us to protect the rights we’ve fought so hard to acquire.

Beautiful Rights will promote women’s rights by donating 20% of all sales (not profits) to organizations that support our causes, such as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Emily’s List, Lambda Legal and Legal Momentum. The 20% contribution is set as a reminder of the fact that women in the U.S. still get paid 20% less than men for doing the same work.

Not only will Beautiful Rights fuel great initiatives, it will also provide women with top-of-line…

Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale Releases March 9, 2017

Aniplex of America Inc. announced today that the nationwide release of the highly anticipated feature film Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale- will take place on March 9, 2017. Details on theater locations and tickets for the nationwide release will be announced at a later date on the official homepage (www.sao-movie.net/us). Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale- will be distributed by ELEVEN ARTS in the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.
About Sword Art Online: The animated TV series Sword Art Online is based on author Reki Kawahara’s light novel in which the protagonist Kirito fights to survive in the mysterious next-gen VRMMORPG called “Sword Art Online.”
Since the first volume of the novel was published in April 2009, the series has proved extremely popular, with cumulative sales exceeding 12.5 million units in Japan and 19 million worldwide, spawning two TV anime adaptations, video games, comic books, and merchandise.
Story of Sword Art Online the Movie -O…

Summer Survival: Pick the Most Breathable Fabrics

Summer is inching closer, and while we're all psyched for the perpetually warm weather ahead after a tough winter, pretty soon it's inevitable that the heat, humidity and summer sun will leave us feeling, well, less than fresh.

Chrissy Volk, wardrobe consultant for Adahlia Volk has put together a cheat-sheet for navigating through the best, most breatheable fabrics for the season. Who ever looks at clothing "ingredient" listings on the tag - well, this season think of it as your guide to "cool."

SUMMER FABRIC "INGREDIENTS"

DENIM
COTTON + STRETCH = CUTE BUTT: Cotton jeans are the lightest for summer because they are airy and breathable, however, jeans with a small content of stretch are the most flattering. They will move with your body and it’s movements.BEST DENIM BLENDS: Chrissy suggests denim with a high cotton content, and small synthetic content. A jean with either a 98% cotton/2% lycra or 96 % cotton/4% Lycra fabric, is a good combination. J…

Book Review: "Feel Me Fall" by James Morris

Survival, suspense, fear, love, death and a major plot twist are a few key themes that describe the brand new Young Adult novel, Feel Me Fall, by James Morris. Having read two of his previous books, including Melophobiaand What Lies Within, he definitely succeeds at taking you on a crazy adventure where you can't stop reading as you'll want to find out what happens next. The first few chapters of Feel Me Fall are reminiscent of the classic book, Lord of the Flies, the TV show "LOST," and even the Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away, where a plane crash in a remote area forces survivor(s) to fend for themselves away from modern day luxuries and civilization. One of the major differences is that Feel Me Fall is centered around high school students, where their teen issues collide with primal survival instincts. 
Unlike Lord of the Flies, which was written in 1957, Feel Me Fall gives a glimpse of today's world where parents and teens dabble in video games, things go viral on …