This Friday, midwest underground hip-hop heroes Atmosphere return to Cali at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater with Slightly Stoopid. As impressively prolific as the rap group's catalog is, it might be easy to overlook that while it's been two years since their last album, 2011's The Family Sign, they've still been putting out a lot of great tracks that can't be found on their full-lengths. Here's a quick refresher on the recent jams that Atmosphere's laid on you.
Atmosphere – “Someday Soon”
A special treat for those who picked up the limited edition 2012 Rhymesayers Record Store Day release, “Someday Soon” it's a solid reminder of how nobody can depict the stress of trying to make ends meet like MC Slug. Capturing the struggle and inescapable paranoia of bad credit and check-to-check living, the despair of the verses is complimented by the contrast of the flickers of hope from the uplifting instrumental and inspirational chorus.
Prof featuring Slug – “Swimming”
On a much happier note, Atmosphere's Slug joined fellow Twin Cities MC and former tour-mate Prof for “Swimming” off of his Kaiser Von Powderhorn 3 mixtape last year. The duo trade rhymes back-and-forth over an infectious beat produced by Dillon Parker and Prof himself. Few songs balance being this smooth and this galvanizing while still managing so many inspired one-liners, but Slug and Prof aren't most MCs.
Atmosphere featuring Brother Ali, Carnage The Executioner, and Haphduzn – “It Ain't the Prettiest”
Atmosphere kicked off their 2013 with the Welcome to Minnesota mini-tour that saw them exclusively playing cities in their homestate, culminating in a show at iconic Twin Cities venue First Avenue (yes, the club from Prince's Purple Rain). To commemorate the tour, it was preceded by the posse cut “It Ain't the Prettiest,” featuring fellow local heroes Brother Ali, Carnage The Executioner, and Haphduzn.
Demosexual (Atmosphere) – “She Likes”
For 2013's Record Store Day, Atmosphere did something different. Releasing a 7-inch under the name Demosexual, the group put out two semi-tongue-in-cheek sensual love jams. “She Likes” describes a lover over lush synth warbles, and “The Way You Do Me” gives us the man's side in an affectionate conflict. Both emit an emotive response and ooze with coolness that sound like they could echo inside the walls of Paisley Park.
Atmosphere – “Bob Seger”
Not to be confused with “Kids in the Hall's” Bruce McCulloch's immortal Bob Seger tribute of the same name, “Bob Seger” was released last week specifically to coincide with this current tour. While not getting hyper-detailed enough to qualify as career-retrospective rap, the song features Slug reflecting on his journey in the world of indie-rap, how he views his adventures and a few glimpses on his thoughts on contemporaries today. Not so much bitter as it is brutally honest, with a few references to Seger's “Night Moves” thrown in for good measure, it's a therapeutic testament to the faint comfort in tucking away the past while moving toward the future.