12 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rhymesayers founders Slug and Ant are remnants of a pre-internet underground hip-hop community now rapping its way through middle age. Their last few albums as the rapper-producer duo Atmosphere have centered on domesticity’s simple pleasures and stresses. Whenever, their surprise 10th album, pushes forward into quotidian life, making the mundane seem noteworthy. It bears the collected lessons of men who’ve weathered the storms of their youths and sound content to be settled. As the original emo rapper, Slug once self-deprecated before a cult following, but no more. “Put the sad clown flag down, but not to surrender,” he raps on “Push Play,” as he fights new battles.

On “The Hands of Time,” a gloomy consideration of growing older, Slug lays out his intent: “Don’t ever misinterpret nothing ’bout what keeps me engaged/I’m tryna act my age, I’m tryna lose some weight/I’m tryna face what I’m afraid of just to prove that it’s fake.” His continued maturity and pursuit of a clearer mind result in some of his keenest songwriting about being a family man. From the morning routine bars on “Postal Lady” to the blue-collar blues of “The Ceiling,” Whenever is soul-sampling confessional rap from longtime masters of the form. And as they demonstrate on the title track, a posse cut with like-minded MCs Gifted Gab, Murs, and Haphduzn, they can still throw down with the best of ’em. Every now and then, even (rap) dad needs a night out.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rhymesayers founders Slug and Ant are remnants of a pre-internet underground hip-hop community now rapping its way through middle age. Their last few albums as the rapper-producer duo Atmosphere have centered on domesticity’s simple pleasures and stresses. Whenever, their surprise 10th album, pushes forward into quotidian life, making the mundane seem noteworthy. It bears the collected lessons of men who’ve weathered the storms of their youths and sound content to be settled. As the original emo rapper, Slug once self-deprecated before a cult following, but no more. “Put the sad clown flag down, but not to surrender,” he raps on “Push Play,” as he fights new battles.

On “The Hands of Time,” a gloomy consideration of growing older, Slug lays out his intent: “Don’t ever misinterpret nothing ’bout what keeps me engaged/I’m tryna act my age, I’m tryna lose some weight/I’m tryna face what I’m afraid of just to prove that it’s fake.” His continued maturity and pursuit of a clearer mind result in some of his keenest songwriting about being a family man. From the morning routine bars on “Postal Lady” to the blue-collar blues of “The Ceiling,” Whenever is soul-sampling confessional rap from longtime masters of the form. And as they demonstrate on the title track, a posse cut with like-minded MCs Gifted Gab, Murs, and Haphduzn, they can still throw down with the best of ’em. Every now and then, even (rap) dad needs a night out.

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