Tag: Atmosphere

New Video: Renowned JOVM Mainstays Atmosphere Return with a Meditation on Life Family and Death in a Turbulent World

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. 


New Video: Evidence and Strong Arm Steady’s Krondon Team Up to Wander Around a Desolate Los Angeles in Visuals for Nottz-Produced “Bad Publicity”

I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and producer Evidence, and as you may recall, he’s best known as a member of the renowned hip-hop act Dilated Peoples with whom he has released four full-length albums — and as a producer, the emcee and producer born Michael Taylor Perretta has worked with Beastie Boys, Linkin Park, Swollen Members, Defari, Planet Asia and has a co-production credit on Kanye West’s Grammy-winning, full-length debut The College Dropout.

Perretta’s 2007 full-length full-length debut The Weatherman was released by ABB Records, the long-time label home of Dilated Peoples and featured tracks produced by Perretta,  The Alchemist, Sid Roams (the production team of Joey Chavez and Tavish “Bravo” Graham), Jake One, DJ Babu, and DJ Khalil, as well as collaborations with the Dilated Peoples crew. By 2009 Evidence signed with Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hip label Rhymesayers Entertainment, who released his 2011 sophomore effort Cats & Dogs, an album that wound up being among his most commercially successful as it landed at #64 on the Billboard 200. Perretta’s fourth album Weather or Not was released earlier this year, and the album is the first catch of new material from the Los Angeles-based emcee and producer since the 2014’s The Alchemist-produced Lord Steppington.

Weather or Not’s third single, the  DJ Premier-produced “10,000 Hours” was centered around a  swaggering and strutting West Coast hip-hop meets menacing, old school, boom bap, old school East Coast hip-hop production paired with one of contemporary hip-hop’s criminally unheralded emcees, rhyming about the time he has spent practicing, developing and honing his skills to become one of the very best — or in other words talent ain’t shit, if you don’t work very hard at it. The album’s fourth single “Powder Cocaine” continued Evidence’s ongoing collaboration with The Alchemist, who contributed an atmospheric yet soulful production consisting of boom bap beats, warm blasts of bluesy guitar, a chopped up choral vocal sample and a soaring hook and the production managed to be roomy enough to allow Evidence and Slug to trade bars full of diverse metaphors and descriptive symbolism.

The album’s fifth and latest single, the Nottz-produced “Bad Publicity” much in the vein of its predecessors as it’s golden era hip-hop inspired, tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap hip-hop, complete with some dexterous scratching — and the production manages to be roomy enough for Evidence and Strong Arm Steady’s gravelly-voiced Krondon to spit fiery, braggadocio-filled bars. Directed by Todd Angkauswan, the recently released video for “Bad Publicity” is shot in an deserted, almost post apocalyptic Los Angeles, featuring the city’s most prominent locations.

New Video: Grieves’ Call to Celebrate and Live Life Urgently in Visuals for “A-Okay”

Benjamin Laub, best known in hip-hop circles as Grieves is a  Chicago, IL-born, Seattle, WA-based emcee, by way of New York, Colorado and San Diego, CA, who with the release of his first four full-length albums — 2007’s independently released album Irreversible, 2010’s Budo-produced 88 Keys & Counting, 2011’s Budo-produced Together/Apart, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves — has managed to achieve critical and commercial success; in fact, 2011’s Together/Apart debuted at #112 on the Billboard Top 200, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves debuted at #57 on the Billboard Top 200.

His Chords-produced fifth, full-length album Running Wild was released earlier this year through renowned indie hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment, the label home of JOVM mainstay Atmosphere and others, and if you had been frequenting this site around then, you’d recall that album single “What It Dew” found the Seattle-based emcee focusing on succeeding against all odds, despite haters and naysayers over a swaggering and soulful production consisting of electric guitar, boom bap beats, brief bursts of organ and swirling electronics. But underneath the swaggering and slick production and witty punchlines is a honest devotion to pure hip hop — i.e., dope production and dope emcee paired together. 

Running Wild’s latest single “A-Okay” features yet another soulful production consisting of stuttering drum programming, twinkling organ, a sinuous bass line and warm blasts of guitar paired with an infectious hook but at its core is a call to celebrate and live life with  urgency and passion as the song finds the renowned Seattle-based emcee essentially saying “life is short, and sometimes we gotta turn this motherfucker out and cherish the small things”  because ultimately, life is about the small things: the smile of a potential lover at the club or at the bar, the drinks and bullshitting about music, life and art with friends, listening to your favorite song on your headphones or at your favorite bar, etc. And as a result, the song manages to feel appreciative, as its narrator recognizes how truly blessed they are to be alive and in the moment. 

Directed by Ryan “Pants” Gross,” the recently released video for “A-Okay explores a series of carefree and fun situations through the eyes of a stereotypically miserable Debbie Downer type. As the renowned emcee comments, “Life is way too short to be mad at other people’s enjoyment. Go out and live a little, rent a hot tub boat, get your butt touched, whatever…Just smile!”

New Video: Watch Renowned Seattle-based Emcee Grieves Entertain in Purgatory in New Visuals for “What It Dew”

Benjamin Laub is a Chicago, IL-born, Seattle, WA-based emcee, by way of New York, Colorado and San Diego, CA, who’s best known by his stage name Grieves, and interestingly enough, Laub has released four full-length albums — 2007’s independently released album Irreversible, 2010’s Budo-produced 88 Keys & Counting, 2011’s Budo-produced Together/Apart, which debuted at #112 on the Billboard Top 200, and 2014’s Winter & the Wolves, which debuted at #57 on the Billboard Top 200. 

Grieves’ fifth full-length album the Chords-produced Running Wild is slated for release Friday through renowned hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment, the label home of JOVM mainstay Atmosphere and others, and the album’s latest single “What It Dew” finds the critically and commercially successful emcee employing a complex rhyme scheme and some mischievously witty punch lines as he discusses succeeding against all odds and despite haters and naysayers over a swaggering and soulful production consisting of electric guitar, boom bap beats, brief bursts of organ and swirling electronics. But underneath the swaggering and slick production and witty punchlines is a honest devotion to pure hip hop — while pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop should sound like, look like and talk about. 

The recently released video was directed by HELICAL, the collaboration between Carlos Cruz and Thai M. Tran, the video pokes fun at the song’s more serious subject matter, as it features Grieves trapped in purgatory, and forced to entertain a shitty dive bar in perpetuity, where the regular patrons are the living embodiments of the seven deadly sins. The video ends with Grieves eventually making the best of a horrible situation, by finding something good about it. As the Seattle-based emcee explains of the video treatment “Not everything is a crisis. Some things are simple and easy. Feel good and let go with this one!”

David Nord is a jazz-trained composer and guitarist, who’s passion and interest in hip-hop and electronic music brought about a major evolution of his work, leading him to mesh the two styles in a way that allowed him to explore the possibilities of an alternate musical vocabulary and a new creative outlet, his solo recording project spoony bard, a project that derives it’s name from the final bit of dialogue in Final Fantasy IV — and it’s beloved by gamers because it’s both a goofy and terrible translation. In any case, as Nord explains in press notes, “Just playing jazz wasn’t cutting it anymore. I started hearing the L.A. beat scene stuff that was coming out and got inspired to really dive deeper into synthesizers, sampling, music software, etc., while also continuing to hone the harmonic and melodic approach that I had developed as a jazz musician. And as you’ll hear on the swaggering “vibe/void” off his spoony bard debut, Dweeb, Nord’s sound clearly draws from Flying Lotus, Dalek, DJ Premier, Aphex Twin, Head Hunters-era Herbie Hancock, old school drum ‘n’ bass electronica, and others, thanks to layers of glitchy synths squiggling and undulating electronics, sinuous bass and tweeter and woofer rocking 808 beats — all diced and chopped up, but paired with self-deprecating yet deeply introspective and honest lyrics delivered in a flow reminiscent of Atmosphere’s Slug. Interestingly, with “vibe/void,” the song’s narrator talks about a familiar experience to most creative types, who are forced to work a day job to survive — the feeling as though they’re leaving their creativity and individuality behind forever, for a pay check and a humdrum, office drone life. And throughout the song, the song’s narrator is desperate to escape, to get his life together and do everything within his power to live the life he’s long dreamed of. Shit, maybe some of us should take his advice, huh?


New Video: Kool Keith and Edo. G Team Up for the Brooding “Tired”

Equally known as a co-founder of renowned and legendary hip-hop act Ultramagnetic MCs and for a lengthy and uncompromising solo career in which he has taken up a number of aliases and personas, while collaborating with an array of emcees and producers, Kool Keith is arguably one of hip-hop’s most unique and strangest artists as he’s spent his prolific recording career continually perfecting and expanding upon his inimitable flow, full of surreal and fantastical tangents, grimly violent and nightmarish imagery and pop cultural references while frequently and effortlessly switching perspectives, moods and points of view within the same song. Kool Keith’s latest effort, 2016’s Future Magnetic features the Bronx-born and-based emcee collaborating with Ras Kass, Atmosphere’s Slug, MF Doom, Dirt Nasty and a lengthy list of others.

Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the course of last year, you may recall that I wrote about album “World Wide Lamper,” a single consisting of a menacingly sparse and hypotonic production featuring twinkling synths, and subtly propulsive drum programming paired with Kool Keith, B.A.R.S. Murre and Dirt Nasty trading braggadocio-filled bars full of insane punchlines that make references to pop culture, the profane, the grisly violent and the surreal, and “Super Hero,” a collaboration with the renowned producer Madlib that featured a production consisting of wobbling, undulating synths, stuttering drum programming and looped chimes paired with Kool Keith crafting a warped, comic book world of eccentric and badass anti-heroes.
Future Magnetic’s latest single “Tired,” pairs an atmospheric and moody production featuring ethereal synths, wobbling low end and bursts bluesy guitar with Kool Keith and Edo. G rhyming about being world weary, under-appreciated, dealing with hateful, jealous people, of fucked up socioeconomic circumstances and industry bullshit, but while somehow still not losing the knowledge of what they’re worth and why they got into music in the first place — to express themselves and their irrepressible need to be creative at all costs. And in typical Kool Keith fashion, he does so with his imitable sense of wit and humor with Edo G. bringing in the

Directed by Wayne Campbell, the recently released, cinematically shot music video for “Tired” features some gorgeous footage of various parts of New York — in particular the F.D.R. near the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges, Kool Keith vamping and hanging out in a hotel room, Edo. G in a lonely, late night club and Keith and Edo on the streets. And while being a view of decadent lifestyle of the artists in question, there’s an underlying sadness to it all, as there’s a sense of lonely and weary people doing things to distract from their own loneliness and despair.

Although he’s known as a co-founder of renowned, old school hip-hop act, Ultramagnetic MCs and for a lengthy  solo career, in which he has taken up a number of aliases and personas while perfecting and expanding upon an imitable flow full of surrealistic and fantastic tangents, grim and nightmarishly violent imagery and pop cultural references — namely comic books and cartoons, Kool Keith  may arguably be one of hip-hop’s most uncompromisingly weird and challenging artists. And interestingly enough 2016 may have also been one of the biggest years for The Bronx-based emcee, as the long-lost full-length effort Pimp to Eat from his collaborative project Analog Brothers with Ice-T, Pimp Rex, Marc Live and Black Silver was released earlier this year, along with his latest solo effort Future Magnetic, which had the incredibly prolific emcee collaborating with Ras KassAtmosphere’s Slug, MF Doom and Dirt Nasty.

In fact, last year, I wrote about “World Wide Lamper,” a single consisted of a menacingly sparse and hypnotic production featuring winkling synths and subtle yet propulsive drum programming paired with Kool Keith, B.A.R.S. Murre and Dirt Nasty trading braggadocio-filled bars full of insane punchlines that make references to pop culture, the profane, the grisly violent and the surreal. That single was quickly  “Super Hero,”a single that pairs a production consisting of wobbling and undulating synths, stuttering drum programming and looped chiming cymbals around a wildly infectious hook with two renowned emcees trading verses full of super-heroes, villains and anti-heroes maneuvering through a comic book-styled universe.

L’Orange an up-and-coming, Nashville, TN-based producer, who collaborated with Mr. Lif on his The Life & Death Of Scenery, released a free EP Koala and is about to go our on tour with Wax Tailor, and in his free time, the up-and-coming producer remixed Kool Keith’s and MF Doom’s “Super Hero.” And with the L’Orange remix, the Tennessean producer pairs two of hip-hop’s most acclaimed emcees ridiculous rhyme schemes with classic, super hero/comic book dialogue and a production featuring twinkling keys, some old-timey clang and clatter, a distorted old school-leaning blues vocal sample, and tweeter and woofer rattling 808-like beats  – while retaining the song’s hook. And in some way, the L’Orange remix manages to boldly and mischievously evoke film noirs, with an insane yet impeccably done ballroom caper — and you can probably picture the heroes (or shall I say, anti-heroes, in this case) narrowly yet confidently escaping capture.




New Video: JOVM Mainstays Atmosphere Return With A Profound and Heartbreaking Statement on Life and Love

Fishing Blues’ latest single “A Long Hello” will further cement the duo’s burgeoning reputation for crafting incredibly insightful, mature and soulful hip-hop — and in this case, the single focuses on the difficulties and awkwardness of love and its inevitably ending; life’s letting and impermanent nature; how both love and life are filtered through one’s insecurities; and lastly, how the song, like the bulk of their material is inspired by hard-fought, heartbreaking experience and personal wisdom. Sonically speaking, the song has Slug rhyming over a looped shuffling and bluesy, guitar sample and boom bap beat; but on a certain level, the song manages to evoke the older friend, who spits knowledge to you while over beers at a local bar or while on your stoop.

Adding to a rather successful and busy year, the duo will be releasing a limited edition seven record box set Frida Kahlo vs. Ezra Pound on December 9, 2016, which will feature guest appearances by Aesop Rock, Blueprint, Grieves, Prof and deM atlas. But before that the recently released music video for “A Long Hello” features the duo driving up to a lonely beach before Slug get out the car, gets a cardboard cutout and starts walking to the beach, inching his way to the ocean. The visuals become increasingly cinematic as the camera pans out, emphasizing the lonely heartache within the song.

New Video: Check out the Surreal Animated Video for Kool Keith’s Collaboration with MF Doom and Madlib

“Super Hero,” Kool Keith’s latest single has the renowned and prolific emcee teaming up with MF Doom to trade incredibly visual and narrative bars full of surreal and disconnected pop culture and comic book references over a Madlib production consisting of wobbling and undulating synths, stuttering drum programming and looped chimes around the song’s infectious hook to create a warped comic book world of anti-heroes being incredibly eccentric and badass.

The recently released animated video pokes fun at old cartoons while employing neon bright stop motion animation and Claymation to a trippy, mind-blowing effect.

New Video: Hang Out and Bullshit with Kool Keith, B.a.R.S. Murre and Dirt Nasty in “World Wide Lamper”

“World Wide Lamper” Future Magnetic‘s latest single is a collaboration that consists of the incredibly dexterous Kool Keith trading bars full of braggadocio, couplets that with insane punchlines that touch upon pop culture, the profane, the grisly violent, and the surreal with B.A.R.S. Murre and Dirt Nasty over a menacingly sparse and hypnotic production consisting of twinkling synths and subtle yet propulsive drum programming. Listening to this track should remind all listeners of several things — that Kool Keith is one of the most inventive and challenging emcees around; and that everything receiving airplay on your local multinational conglomerate hip-hop station is complete bullshit.

The recently released video feature features each of the song’s emcees being hanging out, eating, smoking weed and being cool as shit in a variety of settings while turning some hip-hop video cliches on their head.