Atmosphere has released their new album titled ‘Word?’. The waiting is over with the new album that was hinted throughout the summer with a set of maxi-singles and videos that culminated in millions of streams and billions of curious thoughts and anticipations. That wait is over and that feeling that Atmosphere give with every album is alive and well and evolved with ‘Word?’.
The signature sound that’s instantly recognizable, that poetic lyricism and dynamic musical backdrop that interweaves with said poetry, there is a singular vision throughout and themes within. Monster music as a magnet.
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About Atmosphere & ‘Word?’
After setting the stage with a pair of impressive maxi-singles, simply titled “WORD? Side A” and “WORD? Side B”, the group returned with “WORD? Side C” last month. The latter maxi-single churned out over half-a-million streams in a few weeks’ time fueled by the high-powered and head-spinning posse cut “Pressed” [feat. Anwar HighSign, BlackLiq, Sa-Roc, Haphduzn, & Lateef the Truthspeaker], earning critical acclaim from HotNewHipHop, who summed “Pressed” up best as simply “giant.”
In advance of the full album’s release, tracks from WORD? have cumulatively surpassed 5 million total streams and counting with highlights such as “Woes” and “Clocked,” just to name a few. Right out of the gate, mxdwn claimed, “‘Woes’ plays with futuristic and funky sounds to complete its deep yet light hearted message,” while HotNewHipHop stated “it’s all Atmosphere, who remain in fine form both lyrically and behind the boards.”
As always, Atmosphere have constructed a carefully crafted and cohesive vision with the full tracklisting. This time around, Slug and Ant welcomed collaborators such as Evidence, Sa-Roc, and Nikki Jean. In addition, they joined forces with Aesop Rock and gone-too-soon icon MF DOOM for “Barcade”, a track that expands upon the inimitable creative chemistry the trio shared 20 years ago on “Put Your Quarter Up”, the last time all three were together on one song. The song serves as a fitting tribute for their fallen friend and a closing chapter for their collaboration. Check out the full tracklisting below.
Fittingly, Atmosphere also just unveiled an action-packed animated music video for “Barcade”, directed by Rob Shaw. In following with the video game theme of their collaborations, the 90’s console-inspired visuals depict each MC as a “final boss” of their own game level, spitting their verses as unbeatable otherworldly supervillains who quite literally devour any challengers.
Following their last release, The Day Before Halloween—an imaginative, distorted-synth-driven concept album—Atmosphere’s refreshing new project veers toward their signature sound. Further highlighting producer Ant’s undeniable talents, WORD? leans into the classic boom-bap aesthetic, bringing a unique energy out of Slug’s wisdom, wit and delivery. From onset, WORD? proves to be as much of an exercise in refining and advancing their craft as it is a harkening to earlier work. That is, while Atmosphere’s releases have grown more broodingly cinematic, and increasingly concerned with the human condition and mortality, WORD? manages to reintroduce moments of levity and lightheartedness throughout, an approach seldom heard on their albums of late.
From album opener “Fleetwood,” with its razor-sharp snares and warm fleshy bassline, to the resonant melody of “Clocked”, there are strong hints of Atmosphere’s nascent years within the sound. Meanwhile, songs like “Woes”, “Strung” and “Vanish” cheerfully make light of daily hardships, but they’re more likely to be remembered for making listeners want to bob their heads and sing along. With Slug and Ant directing the course, the album plays like a joyride through a range of experiences and emotions, with an extensive cast of special guests hopping in and out along the way, including Evidence, Muja Messiah, Musab, Nino Bless, Nikki Jean, Anwar HighSign, BlackLiq, Sa-Roc, Haphduzn, Lateef the Truthspeaker, Aesop Rock, and the late MF DOOM.
The result is a project that feels like it came from the era or, perhaps more fittingly, the mindset that created albums like God Loves Ugly, Seven’s Travels, or the popular Sad Clown series, while sounding as polished and perfected as more recent albums like Mi Vida Local or Whenever.
Ultimately, WORD? pairs the breadth of Atmosphere’s talents with the beauty of their growth, all while showing they still have a lot of fun in the process and don’t mind letting the listener in on the fun as well.
Featured image by Dan Monick.