Atmosphere officially drops their new video titled ‘Dearly Beloved’ featuring Musab & Muja Messiah and directed by BLOOD $MOKE BODY, from their new album ‘Whenever’. With the added bonus of the Prince, Breakin’ 2, and Eddy Grant references, Atmosphere again shows that hip hop is at its best when it is personal. ‘Whenever’ captures that magic feeling in the moments where love is not only a feeling but a need. Finding that someone that gives you chills at the right times and thrills in the right places is something that makes one lucky to experience even once in a lifetime. But when that love is reciprocated, only the best in us appreciate it. With that, ‘Whenever’ is an anthem to that loyalty, respect, and absolute admiration and yearning for that only comes with true love.
Atmosphere—comprised of the venerable Slug and Ant—have had a sprawling career as underground vanguards. Across their decades-long partnership, the duo has tapped into the weird and caustic, producing cutting album after cutting an album and speaking truth to pain. Their work has demystified heartache and the tortures of coping through the most common and accessible vices: alcohol, drugs, and women.
For over 20 years, Atmosphere has pursued the underbelly of what it means to be human with a rabid curiosity. Ant’s dusky production has provided the pulse for Slug’s evolving and matter-of-fact pen. As Slug transitioned from throwing-up-in-the-backseat-raps to holding-hands-when-you-cross-the-street-raps, Ant has grown to be a master of crate digging and unearthing the humanity of a drum loop. Always, the duo was concerned with privileging their personhood, making music as ugly and jagged as life itself. Thriving at the intersection of guttural and self-effacing, Atmosphere will go down as some of America’s best archivists.
In 2018, with Mi Vida Local, Atmosphere entered into the album cycle “full of discomfort.” As Slug grappled with his mortality and the disconcertment of being an American, Ant soundtracked these sobering thoughts with iron-clad guitar chords, shivering melodies, and meaty percussion patterns. Just a year removed from their at-times funky, at times bluesy, and always a boom-bap-fueled tour of woes, Atmosphere return with a new album.
On their seventh album, Whenever, the duo moves in lockstep. Be it the twinkle of “Bde Maka Ska” leading into twanging guitars, or the anxious skitter of “Lovely,” Slug finds obvious comfort in working with Ant. “Postal Lady,” recounts the simplicity of Slug’s life over warm and enveloping production, while “Romance” brings us back to God Loves Ugly with undulating glitches, as if we crawled through Ant’s drum machine. No other producer can pull truths out of a rapper like Ant fishes the blues out of Slug. It’s clear the pair’s harmony is reaching new peaks.
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On ‘Whenever’, Slug sounds incensed. His previous anxieties have channeled into biting bars, recalling what it means to grow up gracefully in Hip-Hop. Within the minutiae, we still find he’s struggling with his mortality and the need to protect his emotional energy. In the most subtle ways, the album deals with husbanding ourselves from glowering cynicism. Still, there’s a quiet romanticism to Whenever, with Slug sounding—reluctantly—in love with life. It’s the necessary reprieve Atmosphere deserves after the rattling Mi Vida Local.
These aren’t dad-raps, these aren’t anti-establishment-raps, and these aren’t chasing-old-fire-raps. Even at its darkest (“You’re Gonna Go”) Whenever houses blessed-to-be-alive-raps. The album breathes in the way only Slug and Ant could summon a collective breath—they inhale panic and exhale greatness.
Featured image by Dan Monick.
Directed by BLOOD $MOKE BODY
Starring: Ant, Slug, Musab, Muja Messiah
Assistant Directors: Liban Mahamoud, Marcelo Matos
Production Assistants: Braden Doucette, Austin Edison, Miles Graves
Supporting Cast: Francis Brown, Niani Cunningham, Esai Luna, Josh Johnson, Marcelo Matos
Special Thanks to Jazz Central
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