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Day 306: Atmosphere – Seven’s Travels

31 Dec

Trying To Find A Balance

While at a writing program last summer, I ran into a lot of people with wicked-awesome taste in music.  Amongst the many music-fueled conversations that occurred over those three weeks, Atmosphere, a white boy hip-hop duo from Minnesota, came up a lot.  With this, followed the always-annoying debate of “real” vs. “fake” hip-hop.  While arguments of this nature are usually nonsensical, and utilize a whole ton of circular reasoning, I have come to think of “fake” hip-hop as anything that sounds like Soulja Boy.  I was pretty shocked when one person claimed that Atmosphere is fake.

How?  I pointed out that they have great beats, awesome rhymes, Slug (who has a pretty sick flow), and rely fairly little on samples, preferring to really make their own music.  While I never got a straight answer on why Atmosphere isn’t “real,” I was presented with some purportedly “legit” hip-hop artists.  Names like Tupac, Biggie, and Dr. Dre were dropped, as I was left fairly confused.

One listen to Atmosphere’s Seven’s Travels should convince anyone that these guys are just as “real” as any other act.  I was also told that Aesop Rock is “fake” during this program, so I definitely think that race is involved.  That’s a whole other entry, so I won’t go into it here.

But what do those “real” rappers do?  Rhyme about their lives and problems, for the most part.  Sure, while Atmosphere does have their fair share of commentary of every nature, there’s plenty of life-venting on everything I’ve heard by them.  Haters are bound to hate, I guess.

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Day 137: Atmosphere – When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint that Shit Gold

15 Jul

Dreamer

As far as white boy hip-hop goes, you can’t ask for much better than Minneapolis’ own Atmosphere.  Minnesota Week continues with the duo’s fantastic (as well as fantastically titled) When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold.

I tend to avoid hip-hop records on this blog.  I’m a big multitasker, meaning I listen to the record and write these posts simultaneously.  As a result, it can be difficult to focus on lyrics for most records.  With my little indie hipster garbage bands, that’s not a huge problem.  I can usually figure out what the lyrics are about (if you guess love, Brooklyn, or love in Brooklyn, there’s a 100% chance that you’re right).  Hip-hop records are usually lyric intensive, though, with the vocals mixed above anything else.

The bits and pieces of rhymes that I picked up on were amazing.  Typical hip-hop themes of strippers, death, money, and sex are all present, and maybe even overused a bit.  The way Atmosphere addresses these topics is what sets them apart from standard hip-hop in my mind, though.  They go beyond just telling a trite story, they get inside the demented heads of the characters created in their tracks.  I didn’t know that hip-hop could be this smart.  I listen to Das Racist and Lil B (ironically, of course), so I guess I’m never really exposed to intelligence in this genre.  Swag.

The beats, which my black friends have informed me are crucial in hip-hop, are actually pretty simple.   As someone fairly unfamiliar with this genre, this doesn’t bother me very much.  They get the job done, and showcase the record’s excellent lyrics.  Perhaps a bigger hip-hop fan may be left unsatisfied by the simplicity, but it’s good enough for me.

Hey, what can you expect?  They are white, after all.  And Minnesotans.