Hip-hop duo Atmosphere

Hip-hop and rap are not always the most popular or respected music genres — most hip-hop has a reputation of being of the same ilk as gangsta, hard-core or mafioso rap. There is a whole heap of good hip-hop music in the mainstream that offers more than raps about big booty, drugs, guns and money.

Atmosphere, a hip-hop duo from Minneapolis that features rapper Slug (Sean Daley) and deejay and producer Ant (Anthony Davis), present hip-hop that is more introspective.

The lyrics are about being OK with losing friends and strengthening bonds with others, celebrating the person who's been the most positive in your life, your kids, your homies and leaving behind the people you need to while bringing the ones you love with you.

Atmosphere will perform Monday, Sept. 17, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St. I Self Devine and Carnage will kick off the show, which is open to all ages. The music will start at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $23 in advance and are available at Music Coop in Ashland, Bad Ass Coffee and 619 Clothing in Medford, Listen Here in Grants Pass and or by calling 800-992-8499. Tickets will cost $25 at the door.

Atmosphere's newest album, "The Family Sign," is the duo's most personal and intimate album to date.

It's Atmosphere's sixth studio album, released on the duo's Rhymesayers Entertainment label. It debuted at No. 13 on Billboard's album charts, selling almost 30,000 copies in its first week.

"The Family Sign" takes Atmosphere's esteem for friends and family another step further. It's a tribute to their extended family: their fans, their loved ones and each other.

The songs were written in early 2010, and when the duo sat down to record, their family grew a few times over. Longtime touring partners Nate Collis and Erick Anderson joined them to add bluesy guitar riffs and keys, respectively, that gave the music a fresh edge without sacrificing Atmosphere's signature sound. Daley's voice weaves in and out of Davis' loops, beats and samples.

Meanwhile, at home, two children were born into the collective Atmosphere family, further inspiring the writing process, as well as the concept and title of the album.

"The Family Sign" comes from a place firmly planted in a universal perspective. It's about family and the time you have to be together. It's about living and dying. It's about how family comes as much from loyalty as it does biology. It's about breaking down your perceptions of family and appreciating the people who've made you who you are.

During the three-year interim between Atmosphere's full-length records, the duo has been far from idle. They toured the globe for two years in support of their critically acclaimed and No. 5 Billboard-charting album, "When Life Gives You Lemons." In 2009, they returned home to Minneapolis to record an EP, "Blood Makes the Blade Holy," an homage to their friends.

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