Each Monday, Beats & Rhymes highlights a new and notable hip-hop, rap, DJ, or electronic record that embraces independent sensibilities.
Atmosphere: “Just for Show”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Atmosphere_Just_for_Show.mp3|titles=Atmosphere: “Just for Show”]
The land of independent hip hop is a dangerous, inconstant place. Giants like Rawkus Records and Definitive Jux, once considered among the most vital sources of hip-hop innovation, have collapsed into footnotes. But Minnesota-based Rhymesayers Entertainment has managed to hold its place in the world of underground rap for more than 15 years, thanks in part to founders Slug and Ant’s flagship duo, Atmosphere.
Atmosphere’s previous album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, broke into the Billboard top 10 — an impressive achievement for an underground hip-hop group, and, as a result, Atmosphere represents to the general public what underground hip hop is. Its latest album, The Family Sign, typifies all of the strengths and weaknesses of indie rap, but it’s unusual and accessible enough to be easily enjoyed. If the genre must have a face, it could do much worse than Atmosphere.