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. The act formed over 20 years as at trio featuring Slug, Spawn D and Ant under the name Urban Atmosphere — and interestingly, whether as at rio or a duo, 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 members 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. And while settling down into the much-deserved and peaceful bliss of family and art seems ideal, the world we inhabit has fundamentally changed in a frightening and uncertain fashion.
Unsurprisingly, Atmosphere’s seventh album Mi Vida Local thematically finds the pair grappling with their own mortality, the anxiety and fear that comes from the painful acknowledgment that you’re completely powerless and can’t possibly protect yourself, let alone your loved ones from the dangers of the world. And while arguably, the most thematically sobering of their growing catalog, their seventh album much like the bulk of their creative output is largely centered around Slug’s and Ant’s deep and abiding friendship.
The Minneapolis-based JOVM mainstays spent the bulk of the past year touring to support their seventh album, including a Brooklyn Steel stop last year with labelmates, collaborators and fellow Minnesotans The Lioness and deM atlaS. Continuing a lengthy run of touring, the duo will be headlining the Wild Waters Music Festival, an effort to save the Boundary Waters at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth, MN. But just before that the duo released Mi Vida Local‘s latest single, the pensive “Earring.” Centered around an eerie, Ennio Morricone-like production featuring looping and shimmering guitars, and soaring vocal sample that’s spacious enough for Slug and Musab to trade deeply reflective bars, focusing on their troubled relationships and their roles in their relationships. And as a result, the song is imbued with the weight of adults honestly looking at themselves and taking stock of themselves and their lives.
Directed by Colin Floom, the recently released and gorgeously cinematic visual for “Earring” is set the snowcapped peaks of Colorado and shows the song’s two emcees taking a lonely and arduous trek across the frigid terrain — and in the midst of such loneliness and beauty, it seems only natural that they would be forced to reflect on their lives and their decisions.