Defining success is not an exact science by any means. In some ways, it’s especially difficult to quantify one’s success when they have a job that places them in the public eye, a position that is ripe for critique and high expectations. Perhaps those who best thrive in those scenarios are the ones who can navigate through all noise and continue to evolve and grow, both in their skill sets and as individuals.
In many ways, that is an integral part of the Atmosphere story. Over their twenty-year career they have managed to continually tweak and strive to perfect their formula, while neither straying too far off their path, nor resorting to playing it safe. Starting at 1997’s Overcast, the group’s first official album, and traveling through 18 years of new albums, side projects (e.g. the Sad Clown series and Felt), and various collaborations, all the way up until 2014’s Southsiders album, Atmosphere’s music has evolved in a way that differs from many of their peers and predecessors. A hard look at that evolution doesn’t reveal the commonalities of following trends or struggling to fit in, by either over-extending in an effort to stay cool to the younger generation, or succumbing to the pressure people tend to place on artists to maintain the same sound from album to album. Instead, the Atmosphere discography evolves in a natural way.
Musically, Ant has continued to define Atmosphere’s sound, ranging from a healthy mixture of upbeat and fun, to the oft more iconic, moody and personal. Through out the 1990s, Ant spent countless hours in his basement with a wealth of records, a keyboard sampler, a turntable and a 4-track, working with a who’s who of the Twin Cities’ Rap talent of that time. Those experiences tuned his ear, molded his work ethic, and shaped his vision. In turn, those lessons have continually become more prominent in the Atmosphere aesthetic, blending live musicians and sampled production with his keen sense of how to compose a well-arranged song.
As Atmosphere steps into their 21st year of making music, Slug & Ant show no signs of slowing, compromising or losing sight of their vision. Nor has time revealed any diminishing of those qualities that have brought them this far. As 2016 swung into gear, Atmosphere had already ended the previous year and led into another with a string of singles, and still have an abundance of music on the way, including their latest album, “Fishing Blues”. The title of the new album speaks directly to the sentiments that opened this bio; Is this the point in the career where Atmosphere chooses to step back, put up the Gone Fishin’ sign and reminisce about their successes? The answer, a resounding no, is found in the music, a collection of songs that both define and redefine the Atmosphere sound. Their passion and creative spark are as illuminate as ever. Slug and Ant still have plenty of stories to tell…