Hip-hop group dedicates tour and album to friends

Courtesy Photo

On Sept. 7, Atmosphere released the double EP, “To All My Friends, Blood Makes The Blade Holy: The Atmosphere EPs.”

The tour’s name, “To All My Friends,” reflects the love and loyalty the group has for its fans. It will be coming to Vegas on Oct. 1.

But Slug, the rapper of the group, never imagined he would be making a living out of his childhood love of music. Growing up in Minneapolis in the ‘80s, he absorbed the growing hip-hop movement that started on the East and West coasts.

“I grew up in a neighborhood full of brown babies with white moms, so when hip-hop hit, it kinda hit our whole neighborhood,” Slug said. “It wasn’t really a thing I had to search and seek out and find other people. All of us were into it.”

Slug, born Sean Daley, immersed himself in the merging hip-hop culture of graffiti, deejays, break-dancing and rap

Naturally, when he befriended artists Spawn, Musab and Ant, they began making music that shaped the ‘90s hip-hop culture of the Twin Cities. Their musical relationship continued in various forms as they devoted themselves to hip-hop.

Not being on a major label has allowed Atmosphere to develop in a way that is uncommon in the disposable pop culture often associated with rap, Slug said.

“It’s always been a desire to achieve validation. I mean, let’s be real, that’s kind of what childhood is about,” Slug said, explaining that hip-hop isn’t a job to him — it’s a way of life. “That’s what life’s about, if I wanna be real. ‘Cause I’m almost 40 and here I am trying to achieve validation.”

And though the group is currently on tour, the lifestyle of living on the road as a famous hip-hop artist isn’t what Slug is concerned with. Instead, he enjoys recording, which allows him to be home and around his family.

“I still love touring. I’m just not the kind of guy that’s gonna get wasted with you afterwards,”
Slug said.

While on tour, Slug said he likes to catch up with writing and reading. His current pick? Robin Kelly’s biography of Thelonious Monk, who at one time worked at one of Minneapolis’ largest jazz record stores.

“I took the records home.” he said. “I started understanding the communication and the use of it.”

Although Slug does not consider himself a “jazz head,” he obviously draws inspiration from a variety of music outside of hip-hop. For example, Tom Waits appeared on Atmosphere’s last album.

Slug found inspiration, early on, in writers like Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski, but he now prefers the detective stories of John Sandford.

“There’s just something in the rhythm that just f—s me up. I want to write music like that,” Slug said.
Aside from the new EP, Atmosphere has plans for a full length album soon.

Slug, along with the band, will be doing a meet and greet at Zia Records the day before their show on Oct. 1 at the House of Blues.