Throughout the bulk of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act Atmosphere, and as you’ll likely recall, the act formed as a trio featuring Slug, Spawn D and Ant over 20 years ago under the name Urban Atmosphere. Whether as a trio or a duo, the they’ve maintained a long-held reputation for relentless touring and for pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop should sound like and concern itself with thematically — especially as they inch closer to middle age. And they’ve managed to do so while being one of the more commercially successful indie acts.
2016’s Fishing Blues continued a string of insightful, soulful and mature hip-hop reflecting men, who evolved from tortured hedonists into settled down men, who have seen and experienced more than they can put into words, raising families — and while settling down in a much deserved peaceful bliss of art and family seems ideal in almost every circumstance, things seemed to have fundamentally changed in a frightening fashion. Naturally, if you’re a thoughtful person, you begin to recognize that while your little space in the world is perfect, that within a mad world, it won’t last; that nothing lasts forever, as a song says. And unsurprisingly, Atmosphere’s forthcoming seventh album Mi Vida Loca thematically finds the pair grappling with their own mortality and the anxiety that comes with the painful recognition that you’re powerless and can’t protect yourself, let alone your loved ones from the dangers of this world. For such sobering thematic concerns, the album much like the bulk of their work is centered around the duo’s connection and friendship but as you’ll hear on the album’s eerie first single “Virgo,” the album may arguably be the most intimate and urgent they’ve ever written an recorded — but just because the song evokes the anxieties and fears of our moment, it doesn’t mean it’s completely hopeless. Hell, if anything, it says proudly and sincerely, that as a man, it’s okay to be scared shitless and to not know what the fuck to do; that when you’re uncertain and afraid that there are friends and loved ones, and music and small joys and tenderness that we need to cling to and cherish with ever fiber of our beings.
Sonically speaking, the song features a bluesy production featuring strummed guitar, twinkling old-timey piano keys and eerily buzzing synths and in some way it nods at Everlast’s Whitey Ford Sings the Blues but somehow starker. Shot and edited by Jason Goldwatch, the recently released video appears to have been shot on a grainy, old Super 8 film and in some way evokes the sensation of being awakened from the American dream we’ve all been sold and coming to terms with the fact that it was a bad bill of goods that you can’t possibly return.