It was once common to hear the name Atmosphere and the descriptor "emo rap" in the same breath.

This would read as a derogatory write-off now, but 10 years ago the tag was a clumsy attempt to describe the introspective outsider duo's take on hip-hop at a time when humility was antithetical to the genre. MC Slug used rhymes as a catalyst for self-realization, and DJ Ant's vintage beats stood out from the weirdness being brought to rap's charts via Missy Elliott and Outkast and its underground via Anticon and Stones Throw Records.

Slug mastered the mic-in-hand/heart-on-sleeve aesthetic born on 2001's Lucy Ford EPs, and Atmosphere have helped make Minneapolis' Rhymesayers one of hip-hop's strongest collectives by achieving one straightforward goal: Write rhymes, say rhymes, repeat.



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