Hip Hop indie stars Atmosphere take on the Greek Theater this Saturday, May 7
Date Added Thursday, May 5, 2011 | 7:22 pm
Last Updated Thursday, May 5, 2011 | 8:04 pm
Category: Arts & Entertainment > Music > Concerts
Contemporary hip-hop royalty Atmosphere is back in town with their first studio album in three years, entitled The Family Sign. The album, released on April 12th, is the Minneapolis-based group's seventh studio release and reveals a new level of introspection in their career. Displaying a baby's clenched fist on its cover, Family Sign is about redefining the meaning of the word "family" by assessing the importance of relationships with those surrounding you.
Sean Daley, a.k.a Slug, indie-rap all star and Atmosphere's leading man, explains the album as a product of the band members coming to a point in their lives where they collectively drew back and began shedding the outer circles of their social worlds. "It's just kind of like me drawing a line in the sand; you get to stay on this side of the line and ill call you a friend, and all of the rest of you motherfuckers are on the other side of that line," said Slug in a phone interview with the Daily Californian. "With music, you know, those lines get blurred a lot ... you're supposed to want to party with whoever wants to fucking party with you ... I'm drawing back from, well, just talking to strangers and focusing on not just my nuclear family, but focusing on my people and my friends."
Although The Family Sign is Atmosphere's first album since 2008's When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, the group released an album-length double EP last September entitled To All My Friends, Blood Makes the Blade Holy: The Atmosphere EP's. Slug explained that while ultimately the label chose to release the two EPs together, they are very much two separate concepts. "One of those EPs is about friends and the other EP is about ex-friends," said Slug. The process of recording and writing these is what led the rapper to reconsider the boundary between the two, eventually leading to the concept for the intimate new album. Other ingredients were a bit of time off from touring to be at home and reflect on past experiences, and also, simply, getting older.
Not only does the album's subject matter acknowledge the maturity of the band, but the sound creates the same impression. Characterized by a bold presence of blues guitar and piano melodies amid a simple and steady beat, the album exudes a comfortable mastery of the indie-rap style that Atmosphere has developed over its lengthy career. Meanwhile, the slight departure in sound maintains a confident hold over the group's signature attitude. "Piano has always kind of been the driving force behind Atmosphere," Slug said; In regards to the heavier guitar riffs, "It's just kind of where we are right now."
The same holds true for lyrical content. The raps on The Family Sign could arguably be deemed more sentimental but Slug simply writes about what feels pertinent to him at the moment. "Ten years ago I was focused more on writing about being at bars because those were the experiences that I was dealing with, you know?" he said. Now, as a father, songs like the gentle "Something So" seem to indicate that the typically harsh poet has softened up but others such as "Bad Bad Daddy" affirm that he'll always be the Slug we remember from raw early works like God Loves Ugly.
For the last few weeks, Atmosphere, Blueprint, Grieves and Budo have been traveling the country on what they've deemed, "The Family Tour." Slug said that Atmosphere's last performances here sold out too quickly, so this time the group made sure to schedule a show at a venue that could accommodate "all the kids in the Bay." That place would be the Greek Theater, the gang will roll up along with friends Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic, and DJ Big Wiz this Saturday, May 7th. It will be the largest venue that Atmosphere has ever headlined so don't be too shy to bring the whole family.
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