Release Date: Apr 12, 2011
Record label: Rhymesayers Entertainment
Atmosphere have always been a great rap band. A band that up the ante by giving rap's street tough sound much more shading, more love and attention than high street, guns-n-girls hip-hop. These details generate greater emotional resonance. Their last full-length When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold was a truly downbeat crawl through the streets of life without reason, collecting personal snapshots and more often than not letting their fate remain unresolved, encouraging the listener to decide the outcome.
Upon announcing their latest album, The Family Sign, Atmosphere revealed that this project would feature Slug “metaphorically touching on themes of fatherhood, loss, love, disappointment and jubilation[. ]” It seems a natural progression, given intensely personal songs like Slug’s ode to his deceased father, “Yesterday,” in addition to previous detailed narratives in which the Minneapolis emcee replaced himself in favor of a fictional character. As such, The Family Sign stays true to its name, focusing heavily on interpersonal relationships and the gamut of emotions and complexities that inform them.
Atmosphere :: The Family SignRhymesayers EntertainmentAuthor: Steve 'Flash' JuonThe album cover for Atmosphere's new album "The Family Sign" is incredibly distracting for such a remarkably simple every day concept - a raised fist. The longer you look at it, the more you feel there's something off. The fingers seem too pudgy. The thumb seems to be tucked into the hand awkwardly.
Rapper Slug and producer Ant continue to evolve with their 2011 effort The Family Sign, a conceptual effort dealing with the family unit. No surprise that the duo that arguably invented emo-rap finds a lot of pain in family and growing up, and when Mom gets to “mourn for the touch of a punch” during “The Last to Say,” it’s downright devastating. Slug’s lyrics are equally vivid and blunt, and after all these years of delivering therapy session rhymes, he still continues to impress, giving up the stark reality like few others can.
Minnesota’s premier hip-hop duo return with another intricate widescreen production... Minnesota’s premier hip-hop duo follow-up the mega-selling ‘When Life Gives You Lemons’ with another intricate widescreen production. While Sean ‘Slug’ Daley’s heartfelt lyrics, reflecting humorously on fatherhood, love and loss, are given full vent by producer Ant, the addition once again of keyboardist Erick Anderson and guitarist Nate Collis brings Atmosphere’s trademark sound to another level.
Normal hip-hop questions and notions don’t usually pertain to Slug and Ant, the two parts who make the whole known as Atmosphere. Where most rappers boast of their superiority, Slug seizes the opportunity to remain humble. He often tells of his fear of fame, questioning himself at many crossroads. He laces many of his songs with a common thread of simple yet twisted storytelling – poetic stories of meeting a girl in a bar only to die in the ensuing car ride to consummate the relationship, or of dreaming of a mundane day in the life of the everyman.
Review Summary: The Family Sign is essentially the audible recording of the element of Family, in all of its beauty and rage, and one could not ask for anything more. Three years removed from their breakout hit When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That *** Gold, Atmosphere have released their first true disappointment, The Family Sign. A pseudo-concept record with most of the narratives revolving around familial issues and relationships, The Family Sign can at times be poignant and dare I say it (and despite the best efforts of Slug’s voice) beautiful.
Atmosphere is a Minnesota rapper/DJ duo — Slug and Ant, respectively — who have gained a ton of momentum over the years thanks to layered and diverse instrumentation, vocabulary a mile long, regular appearances from the default heartbreaker known as “Lucy”, and cleverness aplenty. Back in 2008, Atmosphere’s generally acerbic musical wit (see: “Trying to Find a Balance”, circa Seven’s Travels) and commentary took a sharp turn into deeper introspection territory with When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. Anti-hero lyricism was replaced with tales of cigarette addiction, broken homes, dead fathers, and drug-abusing girlfriends.
Lots of indie-rap figures wallow in self-pity, bemoan their own bad habits, snap at those who make life hard for them, and somehow find a way to wrap all those emotions up into a resilient shell. But Atmopshere's Slug established a particular knack for it when he broke outside the Twin Cities about a decade back-- every heartfelt line about lonely people or fractured relations was offset by an offhand remark that took some the sting out of his lamentations. Atmosphere got tagged as "emo rap" because there wasn't an easier go-to term for a barfly raconteur with female troubles, but while Slug's lyrics spoke to the same sour impulses that drove teenage misery, they did so through the experiences of someone who discovers to that misery when you grow up.
Minneapolis hip-hop duo MC Slug and producer Ant, otherwise known as Atmosphere, have remained worth following throughout their long career despite the fact that their albums only rarely bear the kind of rewards that a well-seasoned and steadfastly independent rap group ought to serve up on the reg. Likewise, their discography wants for the classic statement that might retroactively validate their many missed or mediocre efforts: The closest they’ve come to such a release was 2008’s When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. Critics have been nodding politely in Atmosphere’s direction for well over a decade now, which raises the question of why we keep coming back to a duo that seems unlikely to deliver on their initial promise.
Notorious underground duo Slug and Ant are back with their first full length Atmosphere album in three years, The Family Sign. Although many elements of their trademark sound still remain, such as Slug’s slow-paced, introspective bars, and a high quality sound from Ant, the LP is a noticeable change from their prior work. The Family Sign’s beats are less sample-based, taking on more of a Rock edge thanks to the presence of a live guitarist and pianist, but Slug’s personality on the microphone still blends well with the change in audio landscape.
Minnesota hip hop duo document emotionally-testing experiences on album six. Adam Kennedy 2011 Does maturity mean that you can't be any fun anymore? Minnesotan emotional rap torchbearers Atmosphere's first album for three years certainly makes a case for the argument, introspective even by the standards of a duo no strangers to grafting invasively personal musings to an intelligent boom-bap beat. Yet it's also testament to another old chestnut: with age comes wisdom, in this case allowing a view of the big picture.
Hip hop is young enough as a genre that some of its earliest key practitioners are only just now entering their forties, and there's not really a big enough sample size to accurately measure the impact that being of a certain age has on a rapper's music. At 38, Atmosphere's resident lyricist Sean Daley (better known as Slug) has just offered a new argument against people creeping toward middle age being allowed to spit with the young jacks. The Family Sign is the product of the recent birth of the rapper's child, his desire to write a record paying tribute to the people that he loves, and, one can only assume, late night sessions spinning Everlast's 'What It's Like' single on repeat while smoking prodigious amounts of terrible marijuana.