Atmosphere drops a bombshell today in the music world in the form of their surprise album titled ‘Whenever’ and their new video featuring Nikki Jean ‘Lovely’. Atmosphere are not just one of those dynamic duos that are socially conscious, they are ‘introvertially’ conscious. What I mean is that they are clear and solid introverts. They are aware and are constantly becoming more and more aware, of who they are and the value of those around them. If you listen to our exclusive interview with Atmosphere’s Slug from earlier this year (link HERE), you would hear that this group of artists are well tuned into their surroundings and know what is important to them, and it’s not fame and fortune. Family is first, and that comes through personal growth and introspection. As a result, their music is a reflection of their outlook. And each song and video is a life lesson disguised as entertainment.
With the addition of Nikki Jean, ‘Lovely’ reaches that extra height encapsulating all that is precious and beautiful about this song with her sultry and reassuring voice. This is the perfect introduction to the next step of the evolution of revolution that is in the ‘Atmosphere.
Whenever is out now- https://rse.lnk.to/whenever
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.
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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.
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.
Whenever by Atmosphere
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.
Director / DP / Editor – Tomas Aksamit
Production Company – INTRFACE Films
Art Director – Jen Sonibare
Gaffer – Thomas Vandendolder
Key Grip – Andrew Dammer
AC – Keith Moechnig
HMU – Romeny Chan
PA – Cody Otte
Grave Diggers – Sam Aksamit, Braden Berman, Adam Olsen, Christian Anderson
VFX (Car Removal) – Todd Draeger
VFX (Floating Casket) – Tomas Aksamit
Retouch – Michael “Double 0” Aguilar
Special thanks to Tasty Lighting, Billman Hunt Funeral Home and Jeremy & Melody Dockendorf with Royal Oaks Farm.
Featured image by Dan Monick.
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