How quick overturn has maintained Atlanta’s rap dominance.

Panta Rhei (All Things Change) - Heraclitus

Heraclitus, a douchebag with a big brain acutely tuned into the slop that is life, melde the concept of constant change into a principle of world. He argued that it is the only principle we are assured as long as society exists and history has proven that as much as history repeats itself nothing is ever truly the same. The 21 st century philosophy of Atlanta as the current mecca of rap dominance not only takes this concept to heart to top the charts but is rooted in the ever-changing identity of the city itself. As someone raised in the city, having left, every time I return I see the creativity and growth found in the music (this can be positive and negative, [it’s no coincidence the harder the chart topper the more crime tends to fluctuate] remember when your zone meant more than reppin?). Most of the major rap cities have identities that their successful artists must at least fractionally adhere to (when you think of Los Angeles, Chicago, NY, etc a specific style often comes to mind). In Atlanta, it is the opposite, there is no boundaries developed because of the many years during the late 80s and on into the 90s of severe lack of respect for the music that was created in the area (and the South minus a few exceptions).

The 90s proved to be all that was needed to catapult the city into the upper echelon of rap music.

When the whole world was watching the East vs West rap titans duke it out during the 90s, many cities in both the northern border and in the south were seeking ways to develop their sound, not always to great success. In Atlanta the transition from bass rap (deviated from the infamous Miami genre with additional limbs of rap added in) or Freak-Nik jams as I call them, to dirty funky soulful sounds of Dungeon Family had begun. It was a collaborative style that had no similarities and the universal acclaim for albums like Soul Food and Atliens in the 90s helped open the door for the deep south on the critical sphere.

Still, it could be argued that so many of the albums of this period didn’t receive the eye opening success or reception that was deserved (Sorry, Witchdoctor). The 90s proved to be all that was needed to catapult the city into the upper echelon of rap music. It was their willingness to bend genre’s inside and outside of traditionally black music that allowed for future local acts to crossover to a more pop friendly groove.

Aug 9th, 2003 - the day T.I. released Trap Muzik, his second album, signified the (then unknown) true changing of the guard in hip-hop.

 From spotty regional stars to a dominance by one genre not seen since the early 90’s New York gold standard but for the city of Atlanta itself, the movement to the top had been in the works nearly 3 years prior. October 2000: Within a two-week period at the end of the month, two rap staples of the time dropped combining the weird off kilter aggression you could find in and sweat filled hole in the wall south of the Mason Dixon and a creative bounce enticing enough to remove anyone from their seat internationally: Back for the First Time and Stankonia. Its no coincidence that both feature the brilliant composition of Organize Noize who created and mastered this potion of sounds. It was the theatrics of songs like Southern Hospitality and So Fresh and So Clean that helped lay out the red carpet for the “fun rap” era in addition to perhaps the greatest selling showsman in rap history. Nelly (I know, I know). This was met with the peak of Blueprint era Jay-Z and Cash Money who literally took over the 99 and 2000 and the maniacal reign of Eminem, unstoppable, but if you paid close enough attention you could see the mainstay of #1 rap albums that continued in the next few years (Word of Mouf, Golden Grain, AttenCHUN!, Drankin Patnaz, Speakerboxx/Love Below, Chicken n Beer). 

The dominance of crunk music in the early 2000’s changed not only the aggressiveness of the music being made but the way that people partied regardless of the community. This was followed by the evolution of trap music, first receiving national attention through TI, being mastered through Young Jeezy, and perfected by Gucci Mane. Trap’s relevance internationally and continued success could be the (and has been the) source of infinite material. The run is surely nowhere close to climaxing with a new generation with such artists as Future, Thugga, 21 Savage, Migos, and the crossover masterminding of Donald Glover and a future that includes PeeWee Longway (who sorely belongs with the previous list), Yachty, Money Man, Johnny Cinco, and SahBabii.

This year alone has seen 6 different albums by Atlanta rappers reach #1 on the billboard charts, no other city has more than one. It has become a common trend seen on the charts in the last few years, an evolution of the trap attitude itself. Like any city there are spats that end in tragedy, but unlike most the sense of pride in supporting one’s own kind, has created an empire that will be hard for any other locale to top for years to come.