Atmosphere are a hip-hop group from Minneapolis centering around rapper Slug (aka Sean Daley). The son of a black father and a white mother who divorced when he was a teenager, Slug became entranced with hip-hop, graffiti, and breakdancing, and formed the Rhymesayers collective with two high-school friends -- Siddiq Ali (Stress) and Derek Turner (Spawn). After some early gigs as Urban Atmosphere, where Slug DJ'ed behind Spawn's rhyming, the pair hooked up with producer Ant (Anthony Davis), as well as like-minded locals such as MC Musab, Mr. Gene Poole, and the Abstract Pack, forming an underground hip-hop clique dedicated to freestyling, clever and complex lyrics, and anti-gangsta positivity. In 1998, Atmosphere released their debut album, Overcast!, which quickly became regarded as an underground hip-hop classic thanks to Slug's deeply personal, poetic musings, as well as Ant's bare-bones -- but inventive -- production.
The next Atmosphere album was titled Sad Clown Bad Dub II, a 2000 set originally sold while the group was on tour. (Now out of print, it's a highly sought-after collector's item.) A year later, the group released Lucy Ford: The Atmosphere EPs, a collection of three EPs built around the theme of Slug's complicated relationship with his ex-girlfriend, the lost love of his life. The group has toured consistently, both at home and overseas; while Ant usually doesn't accompany the group on the road, Mr. Dibbs of the group 1200 Hobos often joins in behind the turntables and Slug is usually assisted on the mike by young rappers like the teenaged Eyedea. In June 2002, the group -- down to the duo of Slug and Ant -- unleashed God Loves Ugly, an 18-track effort that returned to previous themes ("F*@k You Lucy"), but also contained the group's most pop-friendly single to date, "Modern Man's Hustle."
By this time indie rap superstars, Atmosphere returned with their fourth album, Seven's Travels, in 2003, followed two years later by You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having. The group continued to put music out during the next couple of years, including the free download, Strictly Leakage, in late 2007, a near-party album that they followed up with When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold in April 2008, a record that featured plenty of live instrumentation and guest background vocal spots from Tom Waits and TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe. The "double EP" To All My Friends: Blood Makes the Blade Holy appeared in 2010, with the full-length album The Family Sign following in 2011. In 2014 the group released the album Southsiders, which featured the single "Bitter." ~ Dan LeRoy