Finding The GOAT Group: Atmosphere vs. Little Brother. Who Is Better?
“Finding the GOAT Group,” the fourth installment of Ambrosia For Heads’s annual battle series features Hip-Hop’s greatest collectives vying for the #1 spot. Sixty-two groups have been pre-selected by a panel of experts, and one slot will be reserved for a wild-card entry, including the possibility for write-in candidates, to ensure no deserving band of MCs and DJs is neglected. The 2018 contest consists of seven rounds, NCAA basketball-tournament style, leading to a Top 32, then the Sweet 16 and so on, until one winner is determined. For each battle, two groups are pitted against one another with a ballot to decide which one advances to the next round. Though there will be an enormous amount of debate in comments, on social media, in barbershops and text messages, which we encourage, only votes cast in the official ballot or those using the official hashtags on social media count.
This match-up is between two highly influential groups who were vital in putting their respective hometowns on the map. Minneapolis’ Atmosphere takes on the Raleigh-Durham-based Little Brother in a battle between underground juggernauts. Both of these groups are responsible for laying the groundwork for their local Hip-Hop communities, but only one will get to move on to Round 2. Your vote can decide it below.
Together as Atmosphere, MC Slug and producer Ant took something that began as underground to the real estate near the very top of the charts. Co-founding Rhymesayers Entertainment in 1995, the group (which also included Spawn and Stress in the earliest days) has stayed true to the culture with their smooth beats and thoughtful, poetic rhymes. With their unique style and sound, Atmosphere put the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota on the map for Hip-Hop Heads. Outside of its critically-acclaimed music, the duo has done this in cultivating other local voices (Eyedea & Abilities, Brother Ali, dem atlas). Atmosphere’s sound has grown with the lives of Slug and Ant and the industry. The MC chronicled bar-hopping, botched romantic relationships, and the underground scene to evolve to perspectives as a proud father, a middle-aged B-Boy, and life’s simplest pleasures. Meanwhile, Ant moved away from 4-track sampling (Lucy Ford and God Loves Ugly) and into integrating a live band head for a non-genre-specific sound that is less volatile to lawsuits, given the squad’s success (When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Sh*t Gold and Southsiders). With eight albums, five EPs, and 13 coveted Sad Clown, Bad Dub collector series, Atmosphere is poised and prolific as they are poetic.
Formed in the early 2000s while attending North Carolina Central University, the trio known as Little Brother redefined the Southern sound for skeptics at a critical time in Hip-Hop. Between the soulful production of 9th Wonder and the down-to-earth, relatable rhymes being spit by Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh, the group had all the ingredients to make some classic albums, even if it never equated in sales. Debut The Listening excited the masses with a grassroots whisper campaign starting with Questlove, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Pete Rock, among others. Atlantic Records backed the previously underground group. 2005’s The Minstrel Show became a beloved LP, marred by a music video deemed not-network-worthy, and eventually-reduced praise from The Source that prompted a walkout. In addition to cult-lauded mixtapes Little Bro’ released two additional albums following a mid-decade 9th Wonder exit. Ultimately, the beloved act gave way to three solo careers that burgeoned during the trio’s earliest success. Although L.B. showed the challenges of groups in the 2000s, the group also restored hope in multiple ways for legions of Rap fans.
So who is the better Hip-Hop group? Make sure you vote above.