I know it’s cliche, but I’m a big Atmosphere fan. Yes, I love Hip-Hop. Yes, I’m white. Yes, I’m from the Midwest. But I don’t love Atmosphere because I fit their profile.
First, I learned about Atmosphere long before they were as big as they are now. As I’ve mentioned, I grew up outside Chicago as a huge Hip-Hop fan, with very few others around me. No one else deejayed, no one else dreamed of making Hip-Hop a career, and at best, people around me were in to Puff Daddy, Mase, and whatever else was hot at the time. So when I got to college in Cincinnati and met some other Hip-Hop heads, it was a relief. Towards the end of my freshmen year, the DMC competition brought a regional to Cincinnati, and I finally got to see a DJ competition live and in person. I was blown away by the likes of John Doe, and the eventual winner, DJ Abilities, a member of Atmosphere’s Rhymesayers crew. That night, I also witnessed an incredible performance and freestyle session by Slug and Eyedea. Before I left, I picked up Dynospectrum’s album and Atmosphere’s Overcast album. That was the beginning of my fandom.
Now, being in the Midwest, especially Cincinnati as Scribble Jam continued to blow up, it was easy to stay up on Atmosphere and see them perform fairly frequently. But I think I really began an appreciation the summer I was away from the Midwest, interning at a major label in NYC, and spent much of the summer listening to God Loves Ugly.
Now that I am in NYC, I try to catch Atmosphere as often as I can, and they never disappoint. Unfortunately the latest tour is not coming out this way. But their tour-inspired new single “To All My Friends,” has been in heavy rotation lately for me.
Slug has always been a master at conveying emotions and telling stories, and the timeliness of this song is not lost on me. As someone who has made a career chasing his music industry dream, but have now spent my summer unemployed because of the demise of major labels and overall record sales, I often think back to when working in this business was just a dream. And this song couldn’t encapsulate that more. It makes me think of not only myself, but my friends that have chased their dreams – regardless of what they are. Kidd Russ, Colt Cabana, and many others in music, sports, fashion, etc.
This track takes me back to when I was spinning records in my bedroom, writing rhymes no one would ever hear or see, helping promote upcoming acts I really believed in. When music was just love for me, and not a career. When he says “You can’t tell a cowboy/an astronaut/the President what to do,” Slug touches on how we all felt about whatever is was we dreamed to be. You couldn’t tell me and my friends dunking on a lowered hoop in the driveway that we weren’t gonna be in the NBA. Dreams were possible, and no one was gonna tell us otherwise.
Truthfully, I believe this song touches me more now as I realize my music industry career is likely over, and I’ll need to move on to something else. And that has been very tough for me. My love for music won’t wain; in fact it will probably strengthen. But to this point I’ve been blessed to be paid to talk about and listen to music all day. But this song allows me to drift back to simpler times, and reminds me why I love music.
Atmosphere is an act I believe needs to be supported in today’s industry, so I am not including a free download link. But you can check the YouTube stream up top, and the iTunes buylink is down below. It’s $1, and one I believe is very well spent.
Also check out Kidd Russ’s “Backyard Heroes,” from the album of the same name. It’s another track that invokes nostalgia.