The 25 Best Atmosphere Songs

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Photo by Elliot Malcolm

When discussing independent hip-hop in the late 1990s and 2000s, Minnesota's Atmosphere undoubtedly makes the shortlist as one of the most influential, important groups of the era. With their catalog—a discography rife with emotional honesty, self-deprecating bravado, soulful beats, and more cult hits than many of their contemporaries—as cornerstone, the duo of rap Slug and producer Ant not only built a lasting artistic legacy that has allowed them to travel the world and reach the precipice of mainstream commercial success, they also managed to build Rhymesayers Entertainment into an underground hip-hop powerhouse providing a home for upstarts and veterans (MF Doom, Aesop Rock, Evidence, Soul Position, and Abstract Rude, among others) alike.

Since their debut in 1997, the duo (initially a trio also featuring emcee Spawn) has released six full length albums, five EPs, two compilation albums, and thirteen odds and ends collections. A discography this dauntingly extensive makes selecting 25 greatest songs no easy task. If you've never gotten into Atmosphere's catalog, or you simply want to relive some of the group's finest moments, check out our choices for the group's 25 best.

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  • Onemospheric

    No way. What about Became from The Family Sign or The Last To say from the same album? Or are you just talking about their music before 2010?

  • Abeewon

    No mention of the family sign because its terrible. I would’ve liked to see “carry me home” personally

  • nick

    as great as those songs are, this is a top 25 and i’d have to say these are all better. i liked family sign but have to admit it gets the least amount of listens from me.

  • victory

    anyone know why travel isnt on headshots on the itunes store?

  • Anon

    I looked it up bc it isn’t on spotify either – it looks like it was part of a bonus disc for that album.

  • TanyJane

    I think “Guarantees,” “National Disgrace,” “Domestic Dog,” “Apple” or “Reflections” would have been good choices for this list.

  • onoudidntwanaknowwhoslifewaswr

    great list, really really think “yesterday” should have been on there though.

  • MK

    What about Like Today or In My Continental? Those are must haves.

  • Paul T

    Glad it’s an Atmosphere list, there are a bunch of songs they missed, and too many Overcast songs for my taste. It would be so hard to pick a #1, I’ll go with F@ck You Lucy.

  • Paul T

    Millennium Dodo is hype, don’t sleep!

  • Cicero

    That’s because Overcast! was their BEST album, PERIOD!

  • Cicero

    They don’t have ‘The Outernet’ on this list? #smdh

  • JoeRhyme

    Such a shame.

  • gatorslife

    where the fk is clay? overcast was one of the best hip-hop albums of all time.

  • Lesly

    Family Sign is not terrible. if you didn’t like it, that’s something else.

  • bmctigue

    Glad there wasn’t anything from the latest few albums, there wasn’t much there. I agree with most of these, although I’d have switched The Arrival with Little Man from the same album. I also think that Carry Me Home should have taken one of the Overcast slots and Lyndale Ave. Users Manual could definitely hold it’s own on the list, although it isn’t quite as lyrically complex as the rest of the songs.

  • Vegas

    Great picks.. but “If I was Santa Claus” has to be on there.

  • Vegas

    Overcast is good.. but I have to say Lucy Ford is the best.

  • TK

    Millie fell off the fire escape!!!

  • TK

    Wild Wild horses, The Rooster, Happy mess, summer song, In her music box, The waitress, Reflections, To all my friends, Best day….

  • B

    Glass House, Shoulda Known, The Waitress, Painting, Complications, the list could have gone on. There are some GREAT one’s missings.

  • thew

    Became and the last to say both should of made it as well. Most of Family sign i typically skip but those get played more than all of se7en (minus abusing of the rib)

  • thew

    Yesterday and guarantees are easy top 10 songs. This list leaned too heavy on outcast and seven. Outcast was great but if you are going to make a best of atmosphere you have to follow his progression instead of a list thats stuck in his past.

  • thew

    also sunshine being the only song added from the sad clown series is odd

  • thew

    I understand limiting the amount from Gold, but I think the 2 they picked aren’t my favorites.

  • thew

    I also dig Little man

  • JG

    Yeah, You is fine, but over The Waitress? Seriously?

  • Elliot Dellorco

    Yesterday should have at least been included, if moving Sunshine and God Loves Ugly further up is disagreeable. While the top 3 are very very good songs I don’t think those songs deserved to be so low.

  • Galia-xy Stoykova

    If I was Santa Claus,Fuck you Lucy,Little Man,Lyndale Ave,The best day,To all my friends,Sunshine,Yesterday,Bleed slow,Insomnia 411,Summer song,Wild wild horses,In her music box,Glass house,You,Smart went crazy should be on the list

  • Bushwa

    Spotify playlist this thing

  • deprivedwriter

    No…

    No mention of any songs from The Family Sign because it’s still fresh in their entire catalog. I don’t think I would put any of them in the top 25 necessarily but I think there are songs that have a home in the top 50 if it were expanded.

  • Yliad

    solid list but i really disagree with the number one pick

  • mistrmangan

    nice list.. i approached it cynically cause i thought scapegoat wouldn’t be number one.. low and behold. props.

  • Tyler

    My Notes is a good song

  • lame herc

    this list is pretty legit. only problem i have is vampires.

  • lame herc

    this list is pretty legit. only problem i have is vampires.

  • Reignczech

    the choice of the number one song was excellent and unexpected.

  • Paul

    The waitress,guarantees,don’t forget,number one,bleed slow,yesterday should of been on