Sunday, December 30, 2007
ATMOSPHERE'S 2007: 100+ SHOWS, 3 EPs AND ONE FREE ALBUM
For being such a weak year in hip hop, Atmosphere probably had their strongest ever. They toured the states three times (once as the Murs-collab "Felt"), they released three super-nice EPs since summer and then, as a late-year gift to their fans, they released the full album Strictly Leakage on Christmas day free to anyone who wanted it. Now, when you see the word "leak" or "leakage," it typically means that new material is being "leaked" to the market to promote an upcoming release. So, yes, some of this material could show up on their upcoming release due out in April When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. But even still, being 14 tracks deep, Strictly Leakage feels like a studio record because, well, it's so damn dope. Meanwhile, Atmosphere/Rhymesayers knowingly throws the old model out the window and, instead, do it their damned selves--putting the hustle back into hip hop. Where major label artists are sitting back in their borrowed hot tub on their rented estate waiting for their lackluster single to hit at radio, Atmosphere completed three sold out club tours where they'd sell t-shirts, thongs, vinyl, stickers, hoodies and CDs to merch-starved fans. Meanwhile, at retail, they'd sell modest numbers on the EPs keeping their name in the fixtures at the remaining brick-and-mortar accounts (except Minneapolis' own Best Buy--what the?!). The result is the continued development of the Rhymesayers brand leading to Brother Ali's 40,000+ units sold on The Undisputed Truth and 25,000+ sold on the re-release of MF Doom's MM Food.
While the major labels are still trying to figure out how to sell more records, Atmosphere's giving away 14 tracks for free. They're not even suggesting you pay for it like Radiohead--it's just free. That's because they're gonna more than make up for it by hitting towns like Lawrence, Lubbock, Missoula and Tulsa and ensuring that, at any given time, there's ten itchy wallets standing at the merch table readying a purchase (myself included). And because they're still largely i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t, Atmosphere and their labelmates might be taking home more than your favorite radio rapper.
When I asked Slug in Lubbock how he stays so busy, he simply replied, "I'm just not lazy." Yeah, I guess so.
Go pick up the EPs at your friendly neighborhood Hastings and download Leakage at Rhymesayers.com. You will not be disappointed.