The Rise of ATL
Hip Hop music has always been a part of my life since I can remember. Growing up with an older brother I had the opportunity of being exposed to music from the likes of KRS-One, Run DMC, Das EFX, and the Pharcyde. Yet it was my experience as a college student at Morris Brown College during the mid 90s that allowed me to see up and close what was being birthed out of the South. One of my reasons for attending college in Atlanta was that I wanted to have a different experience aside from growing up in the Midwest. I wanted to experience some of the things that I saw on A Different World and the movie School Daze. Attending school in Atlanta Georgia also gave me the opportunity to witness some of the best rap music that was being created at the time. Being an intern at LaFace Records in the fall of 1996 allowed me to understand why the world could no longer ignore the city of Atlanta, Georgia. In the words of Andre 3000 during the 1995 Source Awards, “The South has something to say.” No longer could the world of Hip Hop ignore Atlanta, Georgia.
Although Atlanta natives Kris Kross made a name for themselves coming from Atlanta, no other group would solidify the city’s place in Hip Hop more than the group Outkast. In the documentary ATL: The Untold Story of Atlanta’s Rise in the Rap Game, it showed how the Civil Rights movement was directly linked to those that were birthed out of the Hip Hop movement that came out of Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta was home of Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose childhood home was located on Auburn Ave. and was in walking distance of downtown Atlanta. It was also in Atlanta where you would find Morehouse College, Spelman College, Morris Brown, and Clark Atlanta University, which produced some of the greatest musicians, civil rights leaders, and politicians of our time. I can remember as a student at Morris Brown walking n the Atlanta University Center, riding the Marta, and attending some of the music festivals that educated students on the history of the city. It was during this time that I understood why Atlanta was set apart from cities like Los Angeles and New York. Atlanta had a vibe that the world was becoming in tune with around 1983.
Prior to 1983 the city had a sense of unrest as a number of children were coming up missing. It was during that time that children were being found dead and many families were being torn after learning their children had been victims at the hands of a predator. 1983 brought closure to a painful experience in Atlanta. Rappers like Mojo, Mc Shy, and Kilo would bring a sense of happiness to a city through music and celebration. From 1984-1989 Atlanta’s music scene would continue to go through a process of growth with young producers like Dallas Austin and Jermaine Dupri producing well known R&B acts. It wasn’t until 1989 that a major label came to Atlanta to set up shop and create an avenue for some of the best talent in Atlanta to be heard. Babyface & LaReid would launch Laface Records, which was home to artists such as Toni Braxton, TLC, Usher, and Outkast. Yet it was with the release of Outkast’s first album in 1994 that Atlanta would be known to the world as the “New Motown of the South.” With the arrival of the Summer Olympic Games in 1996, Atlanta could no longer be ignored by the world of music. It has become a city that is home to the busiest airport, prestigious colleges & universities, and lastly some of the best music ever created!