Atmosphere, a Minneapolis hip-hop group that released its debut LP in 1997 and whose label, Rhymesayers, has Seattle connections, plays the Showbox SoDo on Thursday, Sept. 15.
Hip-hop started in New York City and quickly moved west to Los Angeles, but it was never expected that a major outpost for the movement would spring up in Minneapolis.
But it did, and that’s largely thanks to Atmosphere, which plays Thursday (Sept. 15) at the Showbox SoDo.
Comprised of frontman Sean Daley (aka Slug) and DJ Anthony Davis (Ant), Atmosphere frequented the country’s college campuses and radio stations after its LP debut in 1997. Famous for early cult hits “The Woman with the Tattooed Hands” and “God’s Bathroom Floor,” Atmosphere later had a run of three critically acclaimed albums: “God Loves Ugly,” “Seven’s Travels” and “You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having.” All three charted on the Billboard 200.
8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S., Seattle; sold out (206-652-0444 or showboxpresents.com).
But the group’s significance has less to do with the success of its independently produced LP’s and more to do with the record label that produced them. Rhymesayers, which Slug and Ant co-founded in 1995, has been the vehicle for some of the industry’s most significant voices — including the insightful MC Brother Ali and Seattle’s internationally respected DJ Jake One.
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The Rhymesayers stable of backpack-rapping comrades brought street savvy and big-hearted lyrics to its songs about lost love, cigarette smoke and morning breath. With Slug as its patriarch, the label became a beacon for untraditional success.
Many of Rhymesayers’ favorite sons will be joining Atmosphere on its 2016 tour, including Brother Ali.
The group’s latest release, 2016’s “Fishing Blues,” which features the loquacious lyricists Aesop Rock and DOOM, has Slug rapping over acoustic guitars, hefty pianos and Ant’s signature slinky drums. The record shows Atmosphere has maintained the smirk it’s always brought to the hip-hop conversation.
“I figured out that you’re fraudulent,” spits Slug on “Like A Fire,” the album’s opening track. “I hope you feel that that’s a compliment.”
Fans who’ve stayed with the group for all or much of its decades-long run will feel a sense of freshness upon seeing the duo again at the Showbox. But there will likely be a renewed sense of nostalgia, too — the kind that comes when you hear a familiar voice sing a familiar song making you feel that much less alone and that much more inspired to branch out.