Measuring success is certainly subjective. Some will count the dough while others hold onto a peculiar integrity that money hoarders could never possibly understand. Most musicians in the world today would die to have a major label contract, but the boys of Atmosphere (Slug, Ant and Mr. Dibbs) have gone the Company Flow route and have dissed the big boys. It seems that, perhaps, success is more a matter of quality of product instead of quantity of paper.
Using that criterion, Atmosphere definitely is a success. The Minneapolis Mob has done something special on Seven’s Travel, their fourth studio album. Slug is a frantically unique MC. His style has a bug-eyed, needy desperation that is utterly captivating. He jumps nimbly between the jester and confessor. His hyper frat boy sexuality funks up every track with liquor soaked self-deprecation. He’s silly, funny and has more edge than a razor blade factory.
Ant becomes more and more impressive with each release. His beats are solid and varied. He can get the most stubborn head to nod (“Shoes”); “Cats Van Bags” is brilliant industrial distortion-like RZA on a bad acid trip; “Suicidegirls” is entertaining with its calling out of Slug and disturbing production; and, with “Liquor Lyles Cool July” and “The Keys to Life vs. 15 Minutes of Fame,” Ant shows he can bounce with the best of them.
Whatever Atmosphere may have given up in lucre they’ve more than made up for in this album. Seven’s Tale is a testament to their skill and to the vibrancy that still exists in hip-hop’s nebulous underground.