Midwesterners bring conscious rap to Burlington

Minneapolis-based hip-hop group Atmosphere has been spitting rhymes about drugs, life, love, and politics since 1994.They have a broad fan base, composed of listeners from alldifferent genres, and have helped shatter common stereotypessurrounding hip-hop and rap.It’s been a long hard road for the members of this groupwith Slug, Atmosphere’s front man, growing up with the hardships that surround the children of interracial marriages. Living on low income also figured greatly into the members’ lives, leading to its large presence in their songs. As Slug raps, he “never expected a bowl of cherries.”For a place that is not exactly known for its hip-hop,Minnesota has influenced a group that has left an indeliblemark on hip-hop’s history. Still, the graffiti, breakdancing, andmusic of the early underground hip-hop scene had a huge impact on Slug and his lyrics.The first hip-hop group to sign to the indie and punk rocklabel Epitaph, Atmosphere led the way in the label’s signing ofmany hip-hop artists such as Blackalicious and Solillaquistsof Sound. Atmosphere’s distinctive sound emanates from the intelligentand complex lyrics that are deeply personal. In such a placeas Burlington, where being socially conscious is almostexpected, these positive lyrics are sure to resonate among students and residents alike.The group’s lyrics, mixed and layered over constantrhythms that elicit head-bobs and dancing, elevateAtmosphere above contemporary rap. The catchy bass linesmeld with synthesizers and even piano melodies, in a somewhat sparse, but honest musical background.As a hip-hop group, Atmosphere’s educated lyrics draw fans from all musical genres. However, as their last albumwas released a year ago, they have somewhat returned to theiroriginal underground popularity. But did they ever really disappear? Atmosphere strives to “remove the blood clot from the brain of hip-hop,” and “be the biggest thing to hit these…kids.” So how will they fare in a town that seems to be dominated by jam bands and local acts?On Sept. 25, Atmosphere’s honest lyrics and unassumingbeats will headline at Higher Ground, along with Brother Ali,Psalm One, Mac Lethal, and DJ Rare Groove.