After all of these years, Atlanta still sits on top of the hip-hop world. This despite all the many drastic corporate and cultural evolutions in music. Who would have thought that staring from the rise of lean raps, and through the fall of bass music and So So Def, Atlanta would not only be able to maintain, but also expand its seat of influence? In my seven years of living here, I’ve seen a shift in the city’s music and culture that would make citizens of San Francisco shiver. Yet, as the residents of Old 4th Ward, South Atlanta, Decatur, and beyond, adapt to change and the rap industry merges with Hollywood, Atlanta never seems to lose its grip on the charts or its impact on American life.
This column isn’t dedicated to the rantings and ravings of the so-called “old Atlanta.” It’s dedicated to discovering and exposing the many connections between the city’s past, present, and future. From examining the nightlife’s influence on the next hot sound to the bridging of old and young heads, I’m here to explore how Atlanta manages to celebrate its rich history in urban music.
If you think about how Atlanta hip-hop grew from the So So Def bass movement to the crunk era, and then onward through the snap and trap revolutions, remind yourself of the same crew of voices clamoring to be heard through each epoch. The spirit of Atlanta is constantly alive and kicking in the voice of rap music. Jermaine Dupri is still making music with respects to the city’s current sound — so is Gucci, Young Jeezy, and even Fabo. ORGANIZING NOIZE is going to weave together how Atlanta rap retains its legacy and sense of history through sampling, collaboration, guest appearances, and more.
The heart of Atlanta rap and R&B still resides in the city’s jazz and soul scene. As the city undergoes a period of near-constant redevelopment, it brings with it a wave of emerging musicians and composers, all looking to leave their mark. For those who know where to find it, there’s no greater reminder of our abundant musical heritage than a weekend spent out in the historic West End or Westview. And while we’re at it, let’s set a yearly notification for Atlanta Jazz Fest season.
One of the biggest reasons why this column was created is for all the ATLiens who understand the expanding changes, appreciate the history of the music, and desire to bridge the gap between the two for the city. Those ATLiens who easily transitioned the old-school party scene and biker club nights to create communities to all over the city, from south Dekalb and Edgewood to downtown and Buford Highway. Those ATLliens whose vinyl collection continues to grow, thanks to community bars and local enthusiast meet-ups. Atlanta flaunts its black music culture like a woman flaunts her engagement ring, and it’s high time we acknowledge that.