For their eighth studio album, cult rap duo Atmosphere has pieced together a soulful, pop-sensible record that combines clean flows with rich, groovy beats. Fishing Blues is another strong 2016 entry from Rhymesayers Entertainment, and a worthy addition to Atmosphere's discography.
Though this record focuses more on rapper Slug's ruminations on everything from fame and fatherhood to police violence and, yes, fishing, there's a decent measure of good ol' Atmosphere storytelling on Fishing Blues, like in the diptych of "Next To You" and "The Shit We've Been Through," where we find that Slug is as lonely lying next to his lady as he is when she's gone for good.
The strongest aspect of Fishing Blues is the stellar, tuneful production from Ant. His interesting, funk-filled beats drive the songs for the most part. The greatest flaw of Fishing Blues is that it, like many Atmosphere records, runs for too long. With 18 songs clocking in at 68 minutes, the mix of love songs, personal storytelling, and braggadocio don't always cohere very well. Shaving off a few less-than-stellar tracks could have made Fishing Blues to a stronger listen all the way through.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of strong tracks on Fishing Blues, like the funky title-track, the funky party-god anthem "Ringo," "Chasing New York," the wistful meditation on the New York dream (with a "sub-chorus" by expat Long Islander Aesop Rock), the ultra-mellow "Anybody That I've Known," and the gritty "When The Lights Go Out" with MF Doom and Kool Keith.
Fishing Blues is out now on Rhymesayers Entertainment. Pick it up on Amazon. You can get the full album stream above on Bandcamp, and the band released an hour long 360-degree film of a fishing trip to accompany the record on YouTube.
For Atmosphere's latest music, news, and tour dates, check out their Zumic artist page.