Release Date: Aug 12, 2016
Record label: Rhymesayers Entertainment
Genre(s): Rap, Alternative Rap, Underground Rap
You've heard of terms like "dad bods," "dad jokes" and "dad rock"; get ready for "dad rap. " Slug, the rapper half of Minneapolis hip-hop duo Atmosphere alongside producer Ant, is not an MC to shy away about the details of growing old. The pair's new album, Fishing Blues, is rife with enough hook, line and sinker lyrical references to make any silver-haired gent grin.
As Atmosphere, Sean “Slug” Daley and Anthony “Ant” Davis have been making music together for over 20 years, which is not only a testament to their longevity, but also an undeniable rarity in the indie hip-hop world. Based in Minneapolis, the group exploded onto the scene with 1997’s Overcast!, soared to notoriety with 2002’s God Loves Ugly, and have released album after album at a steady pace, now reaching a more complete sense of maturity on Fishing Blues, though still the same people at the core. If lead single “Ringo” is any indication, Slug is well aware he’s getting older — and so are the rest of us.
For Slug and Ant, the past 19 years in the game since releasing their first album in 1997 have cumulated into tremendous success. The Godfathers of the everyman rap genre have amassed a cult following and continue to define what independent success can look like. They’ve taken their own Rhymesayers Entertainment imprint to the next level with their own major festival, Soundset Music Festival, in their native of Minnesota.
Hip-hop duo Atmosphere were busy in 2016, having dropped the singles "Salma Hayek," "Fireflies" with Grieves, and "Trying to Fly" featuring Eric Mayson, along with the Macklemore-ish sounding "Ringo," the only one of the above to land on this 2016 LP. Like their previous album, 2014's Southsiders, Fishing Blues is a heavily Minneapolis-influenced effort where home, heritage, and youthful dreams come into play. Highlight "No Biggie" bounces about with the exuberance of "Stepped off the patio with the courage to fly" plus "I'm tryin' to cherish life, you tryin' to stare on ice," while "Everything" is a laid-back gratitude ceremony written from the perspective of an artist who's seen the world and now come back home.
For nearly 20 years, the Minneapolis rapper-producer duo Atmosphere—Slug (Sean Daley) and Ant (Anthony Davis), respectively—have been trying to find a balance. The alt-sloping founders of the indie rap stable Rhymesayers have been teetering between identities as idols (to a cult-like following of passionate fans) and beleaguered hand-wringers (to everyone else). They’ve earned an “emo rap” tag by delivering plainspoken pleas in spoken-word cadences that saunter through dusty MPC loops, and they cornered the market on a specific subset of pre-internet rap by fearlessly divulging to anyone who’d listen.
Respect to Sean Daley; he’s been thinking out loud for damn near 20 years now under the name Slug as part of the duo Atmosphere, alongside his last-MPC500-standing producer, Ant. Slug’s as real as it gets, in the sense that reality can be both emotionally gut-wrenching and completely boring — and in the sense that someone can have a two-decade career in hip-hop and not actually change anything, or really try to. Daley acknowledges that he’s white-passing, and, for a storytelling type, he seems like a good listener.
To understand the worldview of Atmosphere’s Fishing Blues, look no further than the title; piscine imagery pops up several times throughout the album. In “Besos,” a cokehead earns the nickname “Blowfish” because his drug habit keeps him from getting it up. Three songs later in “Seismic Waves,” a school of salmon tries to swim upstream in The River Of Pessimism.