Atmosphere – You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having (Throwback Thursday Review)

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Godfathers of backpack hiphop and founders of the Rhymesayers label, Atmosphere was the quintessential indie act in the 2000s. Coming off the classics God Loves Ugly and Seven’s Travels, Slug and Ant embodied the struggles of your average young guy – relationships, addiction, paying the bills, and trying to blow – over fresh, quirky boombap. However, they were getting older; Songs like “Fuck You Lucy” begin to lose their charm with age, but thankfully, Atmosphere found a mature spin on their subject matter which continues to this day. You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having is another classic for the legendary group which showed a lot of growth.

The album opens up with “The Arrival”, a track which definitely functions well as an intro; With an epic buildup by Ant and lyrics that explore much of what the album is about in vague terms, its a tone setter in the truest sense. The next track is “Panic Attack”, one where the production uniquely meets Slug’s concept. Under a chaotic beat and a muffling vocal effect, he raps about prescriptions and stressors, making for a song which perfectly embodies anxiety on every level. “Watch Out” features a percussion and scratch heavy beat from Ant, while Slug comes through with a pissed off flow discussing the state of the rap game: The sell outs, how performers are dehumanized, and just trying to make ends meet.

Bring me the head of whoever said ‘play fair’
I want to sit in my chair and wear a blank stare
Fuck being king of the hill
When the music dies you’ll be the first one the villagers kill
Walk in circles, dizzy up the movement
Talk in circles, the underground’s polluted
Lots of circles, you wondering where you fit –
Stop the circles!

“Musical Chairs” continues this strong opening run and is another track speaking on the industry, as Slug uses anecdotes of people who couldn’t quite make it or fit in. Atmosphere have always been such a great act because they speak on relatable, down to earth topics and have been through so much themselves (and are such veterans in the industry). Whether it be girl problems or a bully, Slug has been there too. Another essential Atmosphere track on here is “Pour Me Another”. Similar in concept to much of God Loves Ugly, Slug pours his heart out over yet another bottle; He’s pretty much the greatest rapper for breakup tracks, with Drake apparently taking some inspiration.

Atmosphere – Say Hey There

Another song about loyalty to the genre and Atmosphere’s overt indie mentality is “Smart Went Crazy”, while “Angelface” is a tour of the country’s venues and the women Slug meets along the way (with an infectious, deeply layered and progressing orchestral beat). The song “That Night” is truly disturbing given the reality of it and how close it hits for Atmoshpere; Telling the story of Marissa Mathy-Zvaifler, a young girl who was brutally assaulted and murdered after seeing them in concert. This song alone is chilling and could send the album out, but they instead opt for a message of hope at the conclusion. “Little Man” is a genius concept, where Slug addresses a verse to his son, his own father, and finally himself; Exploring past mistakes, issues in all these relationships, and how he’s going to persevere through it all, we wrap up a rollercoaster soundtracked by Ant’s cathartic production.

Atmosphere are legends of indie rap, and have proven so through their influence, relatability, and longevity. In a string of classic albums, You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having is notable for the musical growth and maturation the duo displayed.

Listen to You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having on Spotify

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