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Minnesota Nice: Atmosphere Meet & Greet – Southsiders Reveiw

May 12, 2014


Last Tuesday morning I dialed in the new Atmosphere album on Spotify for my morning run – I have been enjoying it every day since. I am a marginal hip hop fan, but got hooked on Atmosphere in late 2005 with their album You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having through my son (a true hip hop fan) and because they are from my hometown (Minneapolis).

Most people my age (55) find hip hop an abomination.  I tend to come to music with a pretty open mind and being a fan of funk and soul jazz hip hop mostly works for me.  I find the use of samples brilliant re-purposing and rapping is not that far a deviation from my musical heroes like Bob Dylan and Lou Reed.

Southsiders is resonating with me more than 2011’s The Family Sign, but that may have more to do with my current mood and receptiveness than anything flawed with that album (I re-listened to it yesterday on a bike ride and it sounded pretty damn good).

Southsiders is a return to a simpler Atmosphere – just Slug and Ant.  One of the reasons that I have always liked Atmosphere is Ant makes amazing beats.  They are simple, catchy and soulful.  Southsiders has that classic Atmosphere sound.

Another reason I have liked Atmosphere is Slug tells stories with his raps.  His stories are about real stuff you can relate to: falling in love, relationship troubles, dead-end jobs, having kids, loss, fucking up, etc.  Atmosphere does not pander to youth culture, they define “keeping it real.”  Southsiders is reflective without being mopey.  It is anthematic without being dumb.

The sign of a good album is that it continues to reveal itself on repeated listens.  I have listened to this album at least once a day for a week now and it continues to sound fresh.  I notice new sounds, catch new lyrics, appreciate certain phrasing and just marinate in the nuances.  Atmosphere is approaching 20 years at the game and they continue to amaze.  I appreciate pop music flashes in the pan, but I truly love and respect a music career.  Southsiders is another significant accomplishment in Atmospheres solid and proud career.  The fact that I am a Minneapolis Southsider myself is a cherry on top.

PS – make sure you reach out for the bonus tracks – they are as good as anything on the main album.


Slug, Ant, Catcgroove and Nux

Slug, Nux, Ant & Catchgroove

After several listens to Southsiders on Spotify I decided I needed to get the wax.  I saw somewhere that Atmosphere would be doing a “meet and greet” at Fifth Element record store in Minneapolis, but did not give it a second thought.  Saturday my wife (aka Nux) and I went to a craft show which turned out to be kind of a dud so I suggested we head over to Fifth Element to pick up Southsiders and meet the guys.  Nux was game so we headed over.

How many guys are lucky enough in love to have their wife tolerate their hobby, let alone encourage and embrace it? Not many I am sure – but I am one of the lucky ones.

Just the other day I was reading that Avril Lavigne was extorting her fans $400 a piece at a meet and greet.  The Atmosphere event could not have been more different.  It was free and Slug and Ant greeted each fan like dear friends.  The took time with each person, signed whatever was presented and posed for pictures.  Fifth Element provided a staff member to take pictures with each fan’s phone.  The staff provided security to make sure things were orderly, but did it in an unobtrusive and friendly way.  The guy at the door letting people in could not have been nicer – he seemed genuinely happy for the fans to see their heroes.  The event made you feel welcome and cherished as a fan.  This event could have taken a third of the time, but Atmosphere was there to actually meet and greet fans.  I was a fan before this event, but now I feel a bond with the group.

Nux is not an Atmosphere fan, but she is a good sport at things like this.  I suggested that she join me for the photo and she at first declined, until I reminded her that our son (a huge Atmosphere fan) would get a kick out of it.  She agreed and we approached the guys.  Nux introduced herself to Ant and he could not have been more charming.  He took her hand and said “Hi, I’m Anthony” and kissed her hand.  We gave Ant a whysowhite CD (the band my son manages in Chicago) and then they posed for several pictures. Slug and Ant made you feel like more than a customer, but a truly cherished fan.  Atmosphere, RSE and Fifth Element are doing it right in the new music industry – they are a class act.







From → Music Reviews

  1. Dunno what classifies as hip hop vs. rap vs. noise any more. I know two bands I have loved without reserve:

    1. Public Enemy – Oh, MAN. Did they have the right sound, lyrics and sheer…bomb-through-the-window attitude! I never did consider them rap – I thought they were the perfect rock band – a revolutionary “Fuck YOU!”

    2. Basehead – Not rap. Not hip-hop. Informed by both. Their debut, “Plays With Toys” still makes me laugh to this day. Great stuff. Don’t believe me? Listen to this:

  2. Agree on PE – they were amazing. I actually got to meet Chuck D once. I missed Basehead – sadly they are not on Spotify to explore. Quick listen to your link was very appealing.

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