Background Information
Origin Minneapolis, Minnesota
Genre Alternative Hip Hop
Underground Hip Hop
Years active 1993-present
Label(s) Rhymesayers/Warner
Fat Beats
Associated Acts Felt
Deep Puddle Dynamics
Former Members

Atmosphere is an American hip hop band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The members are rapper Slug (born Sean Daley, September 7, 1972) and DJ/producer Ant (born Anthony Davis). Active in various forms since 1993, they are one of the most commercially successful and long-lived ndependent hip hop acts.



At Washburn High School, Slug met soon-to-be close friends Derek Turner and Brent Sayers; the men who would come to be known as Spawn and Siddiq (or Stress) respectively. Together, the three formed the core of what would become the Rhymesayers Collective. The initial lineup saw them performing as Urban Atmosphere (originally Mental Subject, then Arhythmic Culture) with Spawn rapping and Slug on the turntables. Soon, Spawn convinced Slug to start rapping as well and they began making songs using turntables and a tape recorder. Through rapper Musab (then known as Beyond). Slug met producer ANT when they went to his house to record a track. Slug saw an opportunity in working with ANT and convinced Spawn to accompany him back over there. They soon started recorded songs with ANT, learning how to structure songs properly and practicing vocal delivery.[1] Eventually ANT, Musab and rapper Mr. Gene Poole (Swift, of Phull Surkle) joined the collective, with the group coming to be known as Headshots. Over time, seven cassettes were released under this moniker and garnered some local acclaim; enough so that even as early as 1996, Slug, Stress and Musab were making national appearances such as on NPR's All Things Considered.[2] The true start of Rhyme Sayers as a record label came when Siddiq, fed up with their treatment at a number of local studios, decided to buy his own.[3]

Overcast! (1997)Edit

Spawn quit the group right as their seminal album Overcast! dropped citing a lack of desire to continue in a pursuit that seemed so insurmountable (he had also planned to move to Houston, TX with his wife).[1] The release of Overcast! allowed audiences outside of the Twin Cities to be introduced to Atmosphere, mostly with the airplay that the song 'Scapegoat' received on college radio stations. Meanwhile Slug honed his live performance skills at Minneapolis hot spots such as the 7th St Entry. 1998 saw the recording of two albums by underground rap supergroups. The first, The Dynospectrum, involved both Slug and ANT as well as Beyond, Swift (of Phull Surkle) and I Self Divine. The second, Deep Puddle Dynamics, was an effort put forth by Oakland, CA-based underground rap label anticon, and featured Slug, Sole, Alias and Doseone rapping over beats by Jel.

Ford and Lucy Ford (2000-2001)Edit

Now touring nationally on a more regular basis (the twenty-one date Ford One Tour brought them to the East Coast for the first time)[4], Slug was able to quit his job at record store Electric Fetus, a job he had started when he was still pulling overnight shifts at Target to in order to make enough to support his son. The year 2000 also saw the opening of the Rhyme Sayers owned record store The Fifth Element. In 2001, the two Ford EPs and The Lucy Ford EP were combined into the Lucy Ford LP; originally supposed to be a tour only release, it sold so well that it was later released as an official LP (making it the only Atmosphere album featuring producers other than ANT).[5] Atmosphere hit the road harder than ever in 2001 with three separate tours straddling North America and Europe (Ford Two Tour, Who Killed The Robots Tour and Fill In The Blanks Tour; the latter being Mr. Dibbs's first outing as their tour DJ).[4] With Lucy Ford, Atmosphere finally achieved national distribution through independent distributor Fat Beats.

God Loves Ugly (2002)Edit

Atmosphere dropped their third studio album God Loves Ugly on June 11, 2002. The record featured more straightforward, almost battle-centric, lyrics from Slug. ANT's beats continued to develop his sound, with funk and soul inspired melodies layered over heavy hitting drums. The record was distributed nationally again through Fat Beats and would go on to sell over 130,000 copies.[4] The album generated two singles: Modern Man's Hustle and GodLovesUgly. Atmosphere toured extensively in support of this record, going as far as Europe and Japan and even playing sixty shows in seventy-one days.[4] Their various successes finally got the attention of major labels, Interscope, Sony and Warner Brothers all came calling on Rhymesayers with deals. But for the time, Atmosphere decided to stay independent.

When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (2008)Edit

The latest LP release from Atmosphere (as of 2008) marks a departure from some of the notable styles of their past records. Ant used more live instrumentation[6] in his production rather than sampling off of records. He would have the various musicians that play in Atmosphere's touring band lay down a few bars from which he would take what he wanted and assemble a track. Slug meanwhile started writing more songs telling stories and anecdotes about other people (real, fictional or somewhere in between); a move he had prophesied in an earlier song. Consequently, Lemons is notable for containing only two tracks that directly describe Slug's trials and tribulations.


Slug credits most of the group's success to all the touring they do. In the early days they once drove from Minneapolis to Dallas to play a show for $250.[6]

During 2005's 'Pour Me Another' tour, Atmosphere was accompanied by a live band, featuring Nate Collis on guitar, Brett Johnson on bass, Erick Anderson on keyboards, and Brian McLeod on drums. The live setup brought a jazzy, more improvisational feel to Atmosphere's sound. Slug has said he wanted to play with a live band to add more of a challenge to playing live.

As of the Paint Your City Gold series of "release parties" in support of When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, the live band has been re-rostered with Ant laying down the percussion as DJ, Nate Collins on guitar and back up vocals, Erick Anderson on keyboards and synths & Mankwe Ndosi as the 'human samples.'

In Spring 2009, Atmosphere embarked upon the "When God Gives You Ugly" tour to celebrate the re-release of 2002's "God Loves Ugly" (which had been out of print) as well as their latest studio LP "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold". Slug & Ant will be accompanied by P.O.S. for the beginning of the tour, while Brother Ali will be on board for the last two weeks of the tour.

Lyrical contentEdit

Slug's lyrics often differ from the bravado and self-promotion found in modern hip-hop. Slug raps in a personal, often introspective style, though this has become less prevalent as of 2008's When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. Slug's lyrics often deal with substance abuse problems, tour life, death and depression, blue collar life and relations with the fairer sex. Earlier songs often feature heavy references to his hometown of Minneapolis.

Slug has stated that he will never lie in his raps, but that there is a difference between lying and telling a story. Though most stories told in his songs are based wholly or partially on Slug's life, a few songs are completely fictionalized. This refers to the song Nothing But Sunshine, a fictional first person account of a young man whose parents died at an early age. At the time, fans believed this to be Slug's own life story.


"Lucy", also "Lucy Ford" (Lucifer) is a metaphorical character that is featured prominently in many of Slug's lyrics; Lucy is referenced often in various songs, and a few songs seem to be completely about her. It is often speculated that Lucy Ford is the representation of the devil inside all people; though Slug has stated in the past that Lucy was originally used to write about his on-again-off-again girlfriend and mother to his son, but eventually evolved into a device to write about women in general, alcoholism, the guilty pleasures that the ego enjoys and even disguise political statements.[7]

On a vidcast promoting the album When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, in response fans' repeated questions about Lucy, Slug jokingly states that "Lucy" was a cat he had owned when he had written his first few albums.

William Wordsworth also used a character named Lucy to refer to women in general in his series of poems informally known as "the Lucy Poems".


Slug has also released two albums with Murs from the West Coast hip hop group Living Legends. The idea for Felt: A Tribute to Christina Ricci, their first album as a duo, came about while on tour.[8]The two decided to see if they could garner some extra media attention for Ricci by dedicating their album to her, although according to Slug, Ricci has never responded to this or contacted the band.[9] This debut studio album was produced by The Grouch from Living Legends.

Their second collaboration, Felt, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Lisa Bonet, produced by Ant, was released in 2005.

Slug has also been featured on albums by Brother Ali, Eyedea & Abilities, Evidence, Aesop Rock, Unknown Prophets, Oddjobs, Vakill, DoseOne, Jel, P.O.S., X-Ecutioners, Kanser, Blueprint, Heiruspecs, Jean Grae, Static & Nat Ill, DJ Vadim, Booka B, El-P, Roosevelt Franklin, Minnesota indie rock band Lifter Puller, several Living Legends albums as well as Living Legends solo projects such as The CMA.


Slug (Sean Daley)Edit

Main article: Slug (rapper)

The lyrical half of the group, Slug is the main MC.

Ant (Anthony Davis)Edit

Main article: Ant (producer)

Ant is the other half of Atmosphere, and is the producer of the group. He has produced every Atmosphere record, with the exception of Lucy Ford, by himself.

Other membersEdit

  • Spawn (Derek Turner) left the group following the release of Overcast!. He is now known as Rek The Heavyweight.
  • Mr. Dibbs (never officially a part of Atmosphere) was the off-and-on touring DJ for Atmosphere. He is now the DJ for hip hop artist El-P.

Discography Edit

Main article: Atmosphere discography


  1. 1.0 1.1 Can't You Imagine Atmosphere Having Fun? MVRemix Urban Interviews Slug of Atmosphere. November, 2005
  2. Rhyme out of joint City Pages. July 5, 2000.
  3. One Nation Invisible City Pages. August 18, 2004.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 [1], Music Emissions Atmosphere Bio
  5. [2], The Fifth Element of Hip-Hop - Synthesis
  6. 6.0 6.1 [3], HipHopDX Interview with Atmosphere. Accessed November 28, 2008.
  7. [4], Rapspot Interview with Slug
  8. [5]
  9. IGN Interview, Page 3

External linksEdit


Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Atmosphere (music group). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Less Than Jake Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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