Atmosphere celebrate album release in LA

Atmosphere #8By Josh Herwitt //

Atmosphere //
The Roxy Theatre – West Hollywood, CA
May 8th, 2014 //

Hip-hop took over The Roxy Theatre last week with the return of Atmosphere, hot off the release of its brand-new album Southsiders less than 48 hours old.

The alternative hip-hop group’s seventh studio record, which follows 2011 success The Family Sign, debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart with 23,159 copies sold in the U.S. during its first week.

Not bad for a hip-hop act that has never won an award in its 25-year run.

Atmosphere #1

It’s hard to believe sometimes that rapper Sean Daley (aka Slug) and DJ/producer Anthony Davis (aka Ant) have been making music together for almost that long, but it may be even harder to believe that Slug has been writing music for Atmosphere since the age of 16.

In that period of time, the Minneapolis native has also founded independent record label Rhymesayers Entertainment with Davis, Musab Saad and Brent Sayers, as well as the Rhymesayers imprint Women Records with Nick Carter (aka Murs). He’s even collaborated with a host of other MCs for side projects like Furs (with Murs), The Dynospectrum, Deep Puddle Dynamics and The Orphanage.

Yet, this night belonged to Atmosphere and the arrival of Southsiders, which took Slug and Ant more than three years to make. The 16-track LP (not including four bonus songs) boasts singles “Kanye West” and “Bitter,” and they made sure to perform the former early on at the diminutive Sunset Strip club. The room, subsequently, went apeshit when they did, losing itself in Ant’s catchy beat and hanging onto every word that came out of Slug’s mouth, particularly the track’s “put your hands in the air like you really do care” hook. It was all part of a 90-minute set that included other classics like “GodLovesUgly” from 2002’s God Loves Ugly and “Trying to Find a Balance” from 2003’s Sevens Travels — not to mention “Sunshine” from Sad Clown Bad Summer 9 (2007) and “Yesterday” from When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (2008).

Atmosphere #6

From the sold-out crowd’s roar after every song ended, you would have thought we were in Minnesota. But after more than two decades on the scene, it was clear that Atmosphere’s following in LA is as strong as ever. It’s why the group already has plans to return in a few months for two back-to-back shows (Sept. 5-6) at the Hollywood Palladium. For Slug and Ant, it will be a busy summer of touring throughout North America, with festival stops at Summerfest in Milwaukee, Squamish in British Columbia and Outside Lands in San Francisco on the docket. And with so much material in their catalog, it’s not hard for them to keep audiences entertained.

What’s different about Atmosphere from other contemporary hip-hop acts, though, is its message and tone. The music that the group creates nowadays feels like — for lack of a better term —happy hip-hop, even if it requires Slug to repeatedly ask his fans to smile in between songs.

After all, Daley’s life seems to be all about the pursuit of happiness these days, and while it hasn’t always been easy for things to remain that way, he’s managed to keep his message primarily positive as he enters middle age.

Because from the number of smiles he flashed at The Roxy, you can tell that he’s pretty happy himself.





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