For those of you that experienced ATMOSPHERE Thursday night at The Observatory of Orange County, I know the following “fan girl” four-page letter that you’re about to read will make perfect sense.
With over a twenty-year career, Atmosphere (currently individually known as Slug & DJ Ant) has a discography with eleven-plus widely successful projects which range from albums and EP’s.
The Minneapolis, Minnesota duo has conquered a segment of hip hop in a cult-like manner over the years. Most of those that gravitate towards the group are not your average flashy clothes and jewelry wearing hip hop fans. In fact, there seems to be a bigger connection between artist and fan when it comes to Atmosphere. A connection that surpasses hip hop.
Those of you familiar with Atmosphere probably find or have found comfort and refuge in Slug’s lyrical transparency at some point in your life. From early on in their career, the lyrical content in the music has been relatable to the listener. This is exactly where the group roots their success.
Joyful to dark instrumentation and lyrics full of questions, life lessons, personal confessions, and emotions is what Atmosphere has had to offer throughout the years. Even with all of that involved, it’s still hip hop.
As was expected, the venue was sold-out for this Welcome to California Tour. It’s not an often occurrence that we get the duo on this side of town, so of course fans had to jump on the tickets quickly.
Atmosphere took the stage around 10pm and as the crowd roared at sight of Slug’s presence, he began to rap “Camera Thief” off the Southsiders album. There was no fancy grand entrance, no expensive stage scenery. The stage humbly displayed the name “Atmosphere” across the DJ table and a skull print U.S. geographical backdrop with California highlighted.
They proceeded to perform cuts off Southsiders and the latest project Fishing Blues. It wasn’t until maybe 20 minutes into the performance that they hit us with something off the older projects. “Godlovesugly” was one of the first reminiscent tracks that they did. Cameras went up in the air and the entire room was rapping along. We then heard “Modern Man’s Hustle” and when “Fuck You Lucy” came on it made it clear why we were all there appreciating such moment.
Slug took to the microphone shortly after and wanted to make a confession to the crowd. “I want to apologize,” he said, “because twenty years ago I didn’t give a fuck about you…[and] I want to thank you because you’ve been there for me through some hard times and I’m sure I’ve been there for you too.” The crowd cheered at the short speech.
For those of us who consume music primarily as a therapeutic outlet, those words resonated deeply. Yes, I was that girl who nearly shed a tear at the thought of it. At the thought of times the lyrics in songs like “Happy Mess”, “Modern Man’s Hustle”, “Yesterday”, “The Waitress”, “Dreamer” among countless others were the only comfort I could get. I know, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
It was such a great nostalgic feeling when the group visited tracks off 1997’s debut Overcast, Seven’s Travels, and When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. You could tell that most of the attendees were real fans because there was never a moment in which they ceased to recite word for word. There was even a young girl who was brought on stage and recited Spawn’s lyrics off their debut album.
The real beauty of this sold-out show lies in knowing there’s a special room in hip hop for someone like Atmosphere. When we think about it, it’s a beautiful thing that these artists are able to reach a certain amount of success and loyalty to where they can live off this music without “selling out” and simply being themselves and being for the people.
Thank you Slug and Ant for the years of music and the memorable experiences at these shows. Until next time.
– Stace Fresh