Self-righteously dedicated fans who have been following Atmosphere since their debut in 1997 might argue “The Best Day” is a prime example of the long-underground act selling out. The single is simple, light-hearted and relatable. But a true fan could read the track differently.
Some protest the 2008 record When Life Hands You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold was when the hip-hop duo compromised their artistry for commercial success. Although the record was the highest-selling album for their very own Rhymesayers label, the debate may always remain unsettled. Nevertheless, their latest release has its own message. The single’s repeated chorus essentially speaks for itself:
Every day can’t be the best day
Do what you can right now, don’t hesitate
That’s why we try to make love and get paid
Take the bad with the good, now let’s play”
From start to finish, the song sends a message about positivity and patience, accompanied by a free-flowing soulful piano melody. It’s both disheartening and empowering, in the way that it tells the story of a man (presumably vocalist “Slug”) who’s had quite a difficult day. He’s dealing with financial trouble, atop problems at the workplace and in the home, and just about everywhere else. Whether it was poor circumstances or just bad luck, the guy seems to have a good attitude about it all. The song opens with “I had a rough day, but that’s life, it happens,” and the story flows from there. It paints a picture of this character’s life, where he can’t find peace in working, at school or at home; a constant struggle with no relief. Through it all we see optimism in narration: “Someday Ima be cool,” “You not alone,” “Don’t waste your time feeling sorry for [your]self.”
“The Best Day” paints a picture of this character’s life, where he can’t find peace in working, at school or at home; a constant struggle with no relief.
A listener should easily find comfort in Slug’s words. How much more relatable could it get? The message is so awfully saturated with motivational quotes to groove with. The song identifies with people who work, who are students, who are bullied, lovesick or lonely; who struggle at home, with money, who live with regret, and even losing their hair. It covers all types of issues people face on a daily basis. From the sounds of it, the words were written from the break room at the character’s place of work. While the writer finds comfort in sharing wisdom through his lyrics at a time of difficulty, it must translate directly to the people who hear it. Accompanied by a tune that lightens the melancholy piece, the message reminds us that in the midst of every dragging situation, we can find glistens of positivity—the silver lining in the clouds.
The group’s history should encourage this consistent energy, given the length of time they’ve stayed active. In their past, they have produced songs and albums about topics ranging from love and commitment to drugs, alcohol, sex and abuse. Album after album we see both sides to every story. Slug and Ant’s lyrics show us how much fun they’ve had at the top of their party game with drugs, alcohol and sex. We’ve listened to their stories of being in love, especially with this mysterious Lucy Ford character, but we’ve also seen their difficulties with other side to these substances. A song titled “Fuck You Lucy” deals with Slug’s dependency on alcohol, and the Lucy character has often been woven in lyrics as a metaphor for Slug’s troubles with women and dependency.
Furthermore, the early fan favorite “Scapegoat” is a telling tribute to all of the excuses and blames we place in our problems. It seems Atmosphere has seen the good and the bad in everything they deal with. They’ve been around for a steady 14 years. It seems they know the consequences of every situation now, and they’re confident of where they’ll end up.
This song helps us remember how a true fan should trust the artist. Of course our favorite musicians sometimes change, but it’s critical to remember time is always changing along with style, creativity and vision. For someone to argue this idea is a pretty ballsy challenge, because it’s imperative that Atmosphere admits to fucking up every now and then just as we do. We just need to know that when we stick with them through it all, we can be there for when they show us some really great entertainment. And “The Best Day” is certainly no exception to that, so let’s do as they say and “turn it up.”