It was August 3rd, 1995 in New York City when the Source Awards were taking place, and the buzz at the time focused mainly around the ongoing East Coast vs. West Coast Hip-Hop beef. We all remember Snoop Dogg infamously calling out a packed venue exclaiming “The East Coast ain’t got no love for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg?” as well as Suge Knight’s equally notorious shot when he called out Puff Daddy for “being all up in his artist’s videos.”
But ironically enough, for all the drama that surrounded the East vs. West beef, it was six words from one half of the duo Outkast that may have had the biggest effect.
“The South got something to say”
Fast forward to now and pretty recently, DJ Drama, a native of Philadelphia but also an Atlanta implant visited “The Breakfast Club” in New York and brought up just how dominant the Atlanta music scene has been in the last 20 years.
In the interview Drama exclaims that “Dominantly, Atlanta has one of the strongest runs in hip-hop.” He went on to express that “We going on 24/25 years. Like for real, when can you name a moment in the last dub at least where Atlanta hasn’t been dominant, since Outkast?”
DJ Drama really got me thinking, I mean despite the fact that it doesn’t always get its due diligence in the rap game, Atlanta really has been the mecca and sound for what hip-hop is. Good or bad, over the past two decades Atlanta and the South, in general, have been the curators and tastemakers for all things hip-hop.
To be real, Atlanta itself is all things hip-hop. It’s your snap/crunk music if you want to dance, It’s your trap if you want to be street, and there has and still is plenty waves in between if neither one of those were your cup of tea. How Atlanta’s reign has come about has had so much to do with the immense talent and musical productivity coming out of the city, and the lack thereof in other major cities (*looks at you New York*).
Now it hasn’t all been great. While Atlanta has given us a plethora of legends over the last 20 years – Outkast, Ludacris, Jeezy, T.I., and Gucci Mane – It was also the birthplace of ringtone rap and what has gone on to become “funny rap” in my opinion.
One of the biggest songs in 2015 was the catchy and to some annoying, Panda from Brooklyn rapper Desiigner pretty much sums up just how dominant Atlanta has really been throughout the last two decades. In the song, the Brooklyn emcee raps about “having broads in Atlanta” and “twisting dope, lean with the Fanta” a nod to purple drank, a drink made popular in the South by Texas rappers. If these lyrics aren’t enough for you to see the heavy Atlanta influence, the rapper’s sound might be what does it for you. Desiigner has often been compared to, and at times criticized for sounding too much like current Atlanta rap superstar Future.
Atlanta’s run is unprecedented, the likes we haven’t seen since the close to 30 year run New York was on from the mid 1980s to when 50 cent reign at the top of hip-hop ended in the late 2ooos.
How long Atlanta’s run will continue is something no one can predict with great certainty, but appreciating just how much the city and region has done for hip-hop can be.
Atlanta is the mecca of hip-hop today, and that’s just what it is. I guess Andre 3000 was right on that faithful night 20 plus years ago, the South had something to say, and boy have we listened.