I still can't figure out why Atmosphere has such a huge following in the scene. They have always been so.. average to me. Brother Ali is better on Ant beats than Slug is..
Most rappers and rap groups do have the ability to do what they want. Atmosphere isn't any different than any run of the mill underground rap group.
Average? Abusing the Rib... The Woman with the Tattooed Hands... GodLovesUgly... Trying To Find A Balance... Fuck You Lucy... Always Coming Back Home to You... God's Bathroom Floor... Scapegoat... those are average to you? The fact of the matter is that Atmosphere opened the doors for so many of these rappers that you say "do what they want"... Brother Ali and the rest of the Rhymesayers crew is only around and all together because of Ant and Slug. Don't get me wrong... Ali and POS could of easily been with a major label but when a stacked team with the likes of Eyedea, Blueprint and Boom Bap that garners the respect the likes of MF Doom, Sage Francis and Aesop Rock... there really isn't anything around that still retains "noticeable" individuality and record sale clout at the same time. It's respect... before you jump to front of the line you gotta get someone to hold your spot.
And most rappers DO NOT get to do what they want. You think half the rappers out want to be rapping about dance moves and drug-dealing... it's radio play... and keeping their jobs. Right now the market is flooded with Hip-Hop Groups that are going to be dust in less than 2 years. It's going to be like the '90s and Boy Bands or the '80s and Hair Metal... nothing is going to stick for long and when the dust clears not much is going to be left in it's wake. When you help found and build the very rap-label you release your albums through you can put children's stories inbetween your song lyric pages.
Atmosphere = Average... hahaha... I gotta see what makes up your playlist.