By Gillian Needham
Special to The Free Press
---- — After being together for nearly 20 years, those who haven’t kept up with the Minneapolis rap duo Atmosphere might write them off as being “washed up;” however, that is clearly not the case.
With an ever-growing fan base, ownership of the local juggernaut independent hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment and constant new music on the horizon, Atmosphere is a force to be reckoned with.
The group will make a familiar stop in Mankato on Wednesday at the Verizon Wireless Center to kick off the fourth annual Welcome to Minnesota Tour.
Comprised of rapper Sean “Slug” Daley and DJ/producer Anthony “Ant” Davis, Atmosphere has always taken the time to reach out to the local hip-hop community and maintained a strong connection to Minnesota since before the group was officially formed in 1995.
Daley and Davis remain a constant Twin Cities presence and Daley has sustained a reputation as being an accessible public figure; however, he enjoys his life as a quiet family man.
“I still live in the south side of Minneapolis and I might bump into you at the grocery store, I’m just not going to bump into you at the Red Dragon,” Daley said.
Transitoning into stardom would seem to come with complications, but Daley didn’t recall having any issues that disrupted his long-term goals.
“There were a few growing pains when I started to shift from being a common drunk to a being a person with a family,” Daley said. “I wouldn’t say it was a struggle it at all. I think that is because it was always in me to make that shift. No one should aspire to be the town drunk, so why would I?”
The group chooses to play small venues versus performing in large stadiums due to financial commitments. Though they have performed in arenas, Daley prefers a more intimate setting.
“I personally feel like you can give a better show in smaller rooms,” Daley said. “I’m a fan of shows, so I try to consider how I would want it to be and many times I would want the show to be small. We try to accommodate as many people as we can without going overboard.”
Atmosphere is dedicated to performing shows that are honest, not only to their fans, but also to themselves.
“I’m not one for magic tricks and bells and whistles,” Daley said. “I want to come to rap really good and give the show that I would want to see.”
Daley believes that many tours are done after three times, but Atmosphere and Rhymesayers are kicking it up a notch and bringing back the tour for a fourth year.
“Everybody does things three times, and now we’re doing this a fourth time and it’s like an addiction,” Daley said. “I’m addicted to Mankato.”
The group decided to create the tour after interactions with their fans and hearing how far they were driving to Minneapolis to see them perform.
“We thought it would be kind of novel to reach out and go to these towns, because from Blue Earth and New Ulm it’s easier to get to Mankato,” Daley said, “So, we did it and we had the time of our lives.”
Joining Atmosphere on the tour will be Toki Wright with Big Cats, Dem Atlas of Rhymesayers, Joe Horton from No Bird Sing and DJ Jimmy2Times of the DJ quartet Get Cryphy. Following tradition, the artists released a collaborative theme song for the tour called “Color in the Snow,” which has received a lot of recognition from the Twin Cities-based radio station The Current.
This year, the tour will make stops in Mankato, Duluth, Rochester, Fargo and Minneapolis. Mankato and Duluth have been stops all four years of the tour. Daley attributed the fans as the reason for the tour returning.
“It’s a fun show!” Daley said. “We have every intention of trying to make sure we don’t do the same exact cities every time, but Mankato and Duluth have been on it every time. I think as long as Mankato keeps showing up and enjoying itself, it’ll stay on the list.”
Daley also cited Tune Town as one of the group’s favorite places to stop when visiting Mankato.
“You can’t go to Mankato without going to that record store,” Daley said. “I don’t know if Mankato realizes how much of a gem that store is. Every time that we go there, we can always find more stuff to bring home with us.”
Without making promises, Daley said fans might be able to catch a glimpse and snap a picture with a few members of the tour at Tune Town.
If You Go What Atmosphere concert When 7 p.m. Wednesday (doors open at 6 p.m.) Where Verizon Wireless Center Soundstage Tickets $23; available at Rhymesayers.com, JadePresents.com, the Verizon Wireless Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com, or charge by phone at(800) 745-3000.