This month will be a rather busy month in my world — and in the world of JOVM: I’m currently in Syracuse, NY for a wedding. I return back to New York sometime tomorrow, shoot a handful of shows and then head off to Montreal for the M for Montreal Festival (more on that later, of course). In fact, instead of getting ready for the wedding, I fired up the ol’ laptop to work . . . So let’s get to the business at hand, right?
Throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus-year history, I’ve written quite a bit about about the critically applauded and commercially successful Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act and JOVM mainstays Atmosphere. Initially formed over 20 years ago under the name Urban Atmosphere, the JOVM mainstays have developed and maintained a long-held reputation for pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop should sound like and concern itself with thematically, especially as its founding duo Slug and Ant find themselves inching towards middle age.
2016’s Fishing Blues continued a string of insightful, mature material reflecting men that have seen and experienced more than they could possibly put into words. That album’s material found the duo transforming from wild and untamed road warriors and settling into a hard-fought and peaceful cocoon of family and art. And while that seems ideal, we all know that over the past few years, the world we inhabit has fundamentally changed in a frightening fashion. In fact, last year’s Mi Vida Local thematically found the pair grappling with their own mortality — and the anxiety and fear that comes from the painful acknowledgment that you’re completely powerless and can’t protect yourself, let alone your loved ones from the dangerous of our world. Sobering stuff, indeed. And yet, that effort, much like its predecessors was largely centered around the duo’s deep and abiding friendship.
The duo’s latest single “Bde Maka Ska,” is the first batch of original material since the release of last year’s Mi Vida Local and interestingly, the track sonically and thematically continues in the vein of its immediate predecessor: centered around a bluesy production featuring twinkling keys, fuzzy, wah wah pedaled guitar, a gospel choir-like backing vocal, the song finds its narrator yearning for peace and serenity in a mad, mad, mad world. And while also taking careful stock of his own life and decisions, the song’s narrator coming to a profound realization: that sometimes we have to let go and let the universe and karma handle it — and that more important, that he has a loving relationship that gives him a respite from the world.
Directed by Tomas Aksamit, the recently released video for “Bde Maka Ska” is a trippy and cinematic visual that features Slug on the pier after presumably throwing a set of car keys into the lake, as well as some moody and gorgeous imagery, including lake water washing onto the pier, an empty swing and Minneapolis’ skyline rising out from the peaceful environs of the video. Interestingly, the single and its accompanying video were dropped as the duo announced that they were going to begin 2020 on the road with their “The Wherever Tour.” Starting in their hometown, the 30+ date tour across North America will feature openers The Lioness and Nikki Jean — and it will include a January 23, 2020 stop at Webster Hall. Check out the tour dates below.
“The Wherever Tour – North America” Dates:
January 13 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
January 14 – Chicago, IL – Metro
January 15 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrews Music Hall
January 17 – Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
January 18 – Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre
January 20 – South Burlington, VT – Higher Ground Ballroom
January 21 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
January 23 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
January 24 – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
January 25 – New Haven, CT – College Street Music Hall
January 27 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
January 28 – Asheville, TN – The Orange Peel
January 29 – Nashville, TN – The Cowan
January 31 – Austin, TX – Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
February 1 – Oklahoma City, OK – Tower Theatre
February 4 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre
February 5 – San Diego, CA – The Observatory North Park
February 8 – Los Angeles, CA – The Novo
February 9 – Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst
February 11 – San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom
February 12 – Reno, NV – Cargo Concert Hall at Whitney Peak Hotel
February 14 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Union Event Center
February 15 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory Concert House
February 16 – Missoula, MT – The Wilma
February 18 – Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory Concert House
February 19 – Eugene, OR – McDonald Theatre
February 21 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater (w/ added special guests Blimes and Gab)
February 22 – Seattle, WA – Showbox Sodo (w/ added special guests Blimes and Gab)
February 23 – Vancouver, BC – The Commodore Ballroom
February 25 – Calgary, AB – MacEwan Hall
February 26 – Saskatoon, SK – Coors Event Centre