Hip-hop duo Atmosphere apparently is not the type of act that rests easily. Less than a year after the release of its then most recent album Whenever, the duo returned Friday with its second album so far this year, The Day Before Halloween. The 10-song record is an intriguing new offering from the duo – Slug and Ant. That is proven largely through its musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The record’s lyrical content, unlike its musical content, is more familiar and keep the album engaging and entertaining in its own right. It will be addressed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the record a presentation that hip-hop and rap fans will appreciate just as much as Atmosphere’s most devoted audiences.
Atmosphere’s new album The Day Before Halloween is a successful new offering from the veteran duo. It is a record that offers something quite interesting for audiences looking for something new and unique. That is proven in part through the record’s collective musical arrangements. The arrangements in question take the duo in a new, untried direction. This time out, Slug and Ant opt for a more synth-driven sound than the more familiar traditional hip-hop beats and musical aspects that they have so commonly used in the past. That the duo opted to take the risk and go in this direction was a brave move and is worthy of plenty of applause. Right from the album’s outset in ‘Where The Road Forks,’ audiences are transported back to the 80s with the keyboard-driven arrangement. What’s interesting here is that when the duo’s more familiar hip-hop influence is added to the mix, the balance of those two distinctly different sounds actually works in a weird way. Even in its follow-up ‘Space is Safe,’ that juxtaposition of styles is balanced equally well for yet another unique, engaging arrangement. As the album progresses, the use of the keyboards takes Atmosphere in a more modern direction, giving each arrangement a noticeably mainstream sound. That more mainstream sound that develops throughout the record gives the album an increased ability to hold its own against Atmosphere’s contemporaries. For all that the musical arrangements do for Atmosphere’s new album, they are just one part of what makes the album stand out. Its lyrical content adds more to its appeal.
The lyrical content featured throughout The Day Before Halloween will connect with listeners just as much as the record’s new musical direction. That is evidenced to some extent late in the record’s run in ‘Stardust.’ This song comes across lyrically as a relatively simple song about a relationship that has gone bad. That is inferred as Slug notes, “I should have tried to be a better partner regardless/So why you wanna turn me back to Stardust” before whispering time and again, “broken heart.” He notes early on, “I should have listened to Clarence/How did we get so careless/ You should have listened to the old classics/Those freestyles was written on some stone tablets/I’m such a passive aggresivist…I’m so sensitive/She calling me a booty ho/And now I’m sleeping down at the studio.” Again, here is a seemingly familiar theme of someone looking back on a broken relationship. It’s just one way in which the album’s lyrical content shows its importance. ‘Where The Road Forks’ seems to deliver an equally accessible message.
In this case, the message comes across as encouraging listeners to live life the best they can even when things get tough. This is inferred as Slug notes, “I kinda wish I was in somebody else’s dream/I’m tryin’ ta fish for some faith/But this ain’t what it seems/I mean I mighta seen them clouds/Even felt some rain/My eyes are open like a window that’s surrounded by pain/I know sometimes I don’t’ articulate myself right/Maybe it coincides with how we hear ourselves right/I won’t tell you that you ‘sposed to fight, right/But I got that shelf life/If you wanna know what that Hell like.” He goes on to note in the song’s chorus that “If we gotta die tonight/I might take a couple extra breaths/Watch over those storm troopers who force you to use force/But you still trying to hold the tears/Poker face/Show no fear/Lost in space/Solar flare/Don’t really care/Coast is clear/I’m making motions/I hope it’s enough to get home/This lake is frozen..Only get what you can get/And try not to overextend.” Again, there is a lot of metaphorical language here. He even adds later that “you still gotta hold the torch.” Keeping that in mind with everything else, the song seems to deliver the noted message of keeping strength despite situations. If in fact what is interpreted here is fact, then this lyrical content is just as certain to connect with listeners as that featured in ‘Stardust.’ It is just one more way in which the album’s lyrical content proves its value. ‘The Future Was Disgusting’ is another way in which the record’s lyrical themes prove pivotal to its presentation.
The lyrical theme of ‘The Future Was Disgusting’ is important to note because it comes across as a very typical rap/hip-hop work. All of the trademarks are there. From the mention of smoking, to the sexual innuendo and even old school rap references, the song is loaded with lyrical content that will appeal to any rap/hip-hop purist. Between all of that and the more modern style hip-hop style musical arrangement, the song in whole becomes a song that will connect with audiences even more with listeners. When this is considered along with the other songs noted here and the lyrical content featured in the album’s other works, the whole of the album’s lyrical content leaves no doubt as to its importance. When this content is coupled with the album’s musical content, that even bigger whole adds that much more appeal to this presentation. Keeping all of that in mind, the album still has one more aspect to examine, its production.
The production of The Day Before Halloween is important because it shows how much time and effort was spent bringing everything together. The increased presence of the keyboards in this record could easily have overpowered the more traditional rap and hip-hop elements, but did not do so. Again, that is due to the production (and mixing). Every beat and every note combines so well throughout. The same can be said of the vocals added to the whole. The vocals are never overpowered, either. Keeping all of that in mind, the album’s production brings everything together and brings the album full circle. When all things are considered together, The Day Before Halloween proves to be a fresh new presentation from Atmosphere that is a welcome new musical treat from the veteran hip-hop/rap duo.
Atmosphere’s new album The Day Before Halloween is a record that audiences will appreciate on the day before Halloween and long after. That is proven in part through its musical arrangements, as is noted here. Its lyrical content adds to that appeal in its own way, too. The record’s production brings the whole thing full circle and completes the presentation. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this album. All things considered, The Day Before Halloween proves itself a record that continues to show why Atmosphere is one of the most respected acts in the rap and hip-hop community today. The album is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Atmosphere’s latest news at:
To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.