Atmosphere has been around in some iteration or another for about as long as I’ve been alive, and their eighth studio album Southsiders just landed this month. For indie hip-hop lovers, when Slug and Ant get together, it’s never going to be a bad thing. Unless you’re trying to cop tickets from any of their numerous sold-out shows.
Ant (a.k.a Anthony Davis, not on the Pelicans) once again delivers live instruments for Slug (a.k.a. Sean Daley) to spit introspect over, this time incorporating samples that send the audience straight to the wintry lands of Minnesota. The combination definitely delivers Atmosphere’s most “underground” effort in a while, after years of toying with more guitar-tinged efforts. Tracks like “January on Lake Street” and “Arthur’s Song” take you right to the heart of their hometown. While Southsiders doesn’t necessarily offer the bevy of bangers of RhymeSayers past, there’s no denying the record’s consistency.
But, look. If you’ve never listened to an Atmosphere album before (*slap!*), this Sermonizer highly suggests checking out some of the classic catalog before giving Southsiders a fair shake down. It’s hard to imagine that the duo will ever be able to top God Loves Ugly or When Life Gives You Lemons…, but some may find the variety of samples, synths and slick instrumentation a touch of fresh air.
If not, perhaps this pair are only victims of their own incredibly solid discography.
One of the toughest things about the record is that the opening track, “Camera Thief”, is the arguable highlight of the entire album — which clocks in at nearly an hour long. With an album that lengthy, Atmosphere enter the danger zone of defying our horrific attention spans. Our fault more than theirs, granted, and that’s why God made pause buttons. So even if Southsiders isn’t the dynamic hip-hop duo’s most memorable album, there still are no tracks that make you feel incredibly compelled to hit skip.