Atmosphere You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having

[Rhymesayers; 2005]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: underground hip hop
Others: Aesop Rock, Sage Francis, MF Doom

A good first impression is critical for me when it comes to a new album, and no other genre is scrutinized more heavily than hip-hop. When there are at least 15 new albums a week, it's hard to give an unoriginal album a second chance. If you are familiar with an artist's back catalog, it gives them a bit of an advantage; so when I popped Atmosphere's new album into the changer, the cards were stacked in their favor. I was primed for Slug's grounded yet thought-out delivery and Ant's snare-heavy beats that can be found in a similar form on every release prior to this one. Not that similarity is a bad thing – Atmosphere have built a
healthy following, despite abstaining from growth. Claiming that the new album sounds different from its predecessors is probably the most positive comment I can give it, especially after it failed the first impression test.

"The Arrival" jacks the entire beat of "Pangea," an excellent conscious rap track from the bay area Visionaries. Slug's lyrical content is drawn from the bottomless well of confrontational lyrics he's known to pilfer, and both elements combined make for a pretty unoriginal song. As it segues into the next, a barrage of samples repeat 'atmosphere,' and the album reveals its agenda to create an old-school party vibe, which is further summed up in the album's title, You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having. "Panic Attack" shares a beat with Z-Trip's Shifting Gears and sounds vintage, but Slug's forced delivery and weak flow crash the party. After two mediocre tracks, expectations for the third plummeted. But Ant turned a trick with Boogie Down Productions and pumped out an excellent beat that's prime for a KRS-One guest spot, which is unfortunately absent.

The rest of the album pulls from different eras of the genre, which Ant weaves together into a cohesive product that should reach a new audience outside of the existing hardcore fan base. Unfortunately, the focal point of the album is not on the music, but instead on Slug's lyrics, which have matured at a much slower pace than Ant's slick production. Slug's distinct flow makes little inroad towards change, as he continues to stay on beat while paying no regard to rhythm. Things do look up for the pair on the last track, "Get Fly," an uplifting number that finds Ant doing his best Kanye West impression and Slug trying his hardest to stay out of the way. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to the instrumental version of this one.

1. The Arrival (The Baby Farmer)
2. Panic Attack (The P.A.)
3. Watch Out (Hey You)
4. Musical Chairs (Stop the Fucking Music)
5. Say Hey There (Gotta Go to Mexico)
6. Hockey Hair (You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having)
7. Bam (Eventually Suddenly)
8. Pour Me Another (Another Poor Me)
9. Smart Went Crazy (The Beauty Pill)
10. Angelface (Multiples 5 vs Travel 4)
11. That Night (Sunshine Blues)
12. Get Fly (What If Jesus Forgot to Put You on the Guestlist?)
13. Little Man (I Love You)

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