Throughout the course of this site’s 10 year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Minneapolis, MN-based hip-hop act and JOVM mainstays Atmosphere. Now, as you may recall, the duo closed out last year with the surprise release of their seventh and latest album Whenever.
Thematically, Whenever’s material finds the duo continuing to struggle with their frailties and with mortality, while attempting to figure out what it means to grow up and grow older gracefully — both in life and within hip-hop. But along with that, the album’s material touches upon the need to balance protecting your energy, soul and heart without falling into glowering and bitter cynicism.
Whenever’s latest single, album title track “Whenever” find the JOVM mainstays collaborating with an All-Star cast of talent including veteran, Los Angeles-based emcee Murs, Sacramento-based emcee Gifted Gab and Minneapolis-based newcomer Haphduzn. Centered around an eerily atmospheric production featuring shimmering synths, reverb-drenched guitar and tweeter and woofer rocking beats, the track features the collaborators matching wildly different and self-assured styles and flows to an overall “blessed to be alive and see another day” tone of Slug’s opening verse. Considering the uncertainty of our existence — financially and physically — all we have to hold our hats to is the fact that we’re alive and healthy for yet another day. Nothing else is certain; nothing else is guaranteed.
Directed by frequently visual collaborator Tomas Aksamit, the recently released video for “Whenever” continues a run of cinematically shot and highly symbolic visuals:. Opening with Atmosphere’s Ant entering an empty movie theater, the song’s emcees become the cast in an apocalyptic movie: We see Slug in an all-too-timely hazmat suit with respirator in an abandoned Midwestern industrial area/farm, planting some seeds — perhaps in some poisoned soil; we see Gifted Gab emerge from a painting and escapes into the fields; Murs, rides around in a convertible Cadillac, re-living and re-writing parts of history, while a homeless Haphduzn warms himself on the flames of world burning around him. The video is unsettling because it accurately captures what feels like the end of everything as we know it.