Famous, veteran Rhymesayers duo Atmosphere (emcee Sean “Slug” Daley and producer Anthony “Ant” Davis) from Minneapolis have come a long way and are on their eighth studio album, Fishing Blues (Aug. 12/Rhymesayers Entertainment), but they’ve always been consistently good with their music, even on this their new present to us. The blended music and vocals here are top quality as Slug spins his involved, intricate lyrics around Ant’s modestly diversified new arrangements, all mastered to crisp audio perfection. Nothing on Fishing Blues deviates from the established Atmosphere standard, but it’s a fine, respectable set of records to be accurate.
Slug, like always, raps on a little bit of everything so to speak: self-deprecation, everyday drudgery, misfortune, love, romance and also minute-by-minute relationship feelings and thoughts. All make for a mainly clean, traditional, cozy and safe hip-hop experience by these major players from the land of 10,000 lakes. In one moment, Slug very lightly touches on discrimination, prejudice and the great difference between the living-standards of the bottom and top classes of society, and the most controversy we get is guest Kool Keith’s insertion in “When The Lights Go Out” that money truly has no value (after all, what does have value is help, contribution, sharing, labor, sacrifice, donation, devotion and the like), so from one perspective, just about everything on Fishing Blues is safe sheltered territory for Atmosphere.
The quality artistry of this product with the good mixing and the well chosen sounds and tones coupled with Slug’s clear, rich rapping is still remarkable though. Plus, the guests including DOOM, Aesop Rock and The Grouch are unbeatable. The only real noticeable cause for concern is that Atmosphere are somewhat too comfortable in their usual mode and style at this point. Fishing Blues makes the cut, but the overall impression and feel of this album is so much like that of the last three Atmosphere albums that a switch-up would have been more appreciated. For the most part however, this remains a distinctively unique project from the solid unmistakeable Midwestern group.
3 out of 5 stars