Hippo Manchester
October 13, 2005

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

Rhymesayers, 2005

***

Why does everyone in the music-reviewing business love to hate Atmosphere? Everyone panned 2003’s Se7en’s Travels, as if Atmosphere had sold out or lost their skill. But these were the same people who had trashed the duo’s previous three records and I sense the trend continuing in response to You Can’t Believe How Much Fun We’re Having, so I will take the road less traveled.

With Slug’s slightly drowned-out vocals and Ant’s complex gritty cuts, Atmosphere’s fifth outing sounds more like a live recording than a studio album. You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having is without doubt a product of the group’s year-and-half-long excursion around the globe in promotion of Se7en’s Travels. Slug’s typical ruminations around philosophy, booze and ex-girlfriends are all accounted for but he throws a heavy dose of insecurity into the mix with lyrics that lack resonance. This is Slug’s “I’m 30!  What the hell do I do?” record and it boasts the same mid-life crisis phenomenon that has hit many MCs in the last few years.

But if anyone deserves praise on this record it should be Ant. His DJ and production skills have shown immense growth over the years and here they are at their best. On tracks like “The Arrival” and “Musical Chairs” you can close your eyes and feel as if you’re in a dark, cramped little club with them.

This is a departure for Atmosphere and while many will miss the subtle, esoteric beauty of this album, Slug and Ant will continue to be two of hip-hop’s few soldiers in trenches, defending us from the P. Diddys and Mike Joneses of the world.

— Dan Brian