This weekend I am attending a wedding in Atlanta. For the occasion, I thought, what better way to commemorate this trip down south than an ATL-centric rap playlist? You might not know it, but there is a very good chance that if you like hip-hop (even casually) you probably like a song from an artist based in Atlanta.
Outside of New York rap, Atlanta-based rappers comprise significant real estate in my rap taste landscape. From Outkast and Dungeon Family to Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane, I was influenced heavily by southern hip-hop growing up (Thanks, Collen). I’m pretty sure I was the only kid in 7th grade listening to Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and Even In Darkness.
In the 90s, the en vogue (and only) argument was, who you got East Coast (Biggie) or West Coast (Tupac)? There was barely any room in the narrative for other personalities to establish themselves despite collectives like Outkast, Goodie Mob, and Dungeon Family being not only incredibly talented but interesting, too. Since those simpler, more binary days, the ATL influence slowly edged closer and closer to ubiquity in America hip hop, finally hitting critical mass in 2003 with the release of Outkast’s double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Atlanta had arrived.
Now almost 15 years later, a new wave of Atlanta rappers have seeped into the Culture once again. Find me a time in the last few years that at least one of the following: Future, Migos, Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, or 2 Chainz, isn’t on the Billboard Top 100. You can’t. I went back almost three years worth of weekly charts and couldn’t find a single week without an Atlanta-based artist on it. That is INSANE. But thanks to the internet and the weaponizing of the viral memes-as-music strategy used to by Migos (and Rae Sremmurd among others), it feels like all the waves in the rap game are being made by artists (not named Kanye, Kendrick, and Drake) from the dirty, dirty.
This playlist is by no means comprehensive. To be honest, I quickly became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of songs that could make the list. I had to be judicious so this thing didn’t end up being a bloated 200 track monstrosity (of perfection). Admittedly, it’s incomplete. For example, the title “Ridin’ Thru Atlanta” is a based on this Youngbloodz track from 2008:
It’s not even on Spotify (probably because it samples T.I.’s “Ride Wit Me” and couldn’t be cleared, or maybe I just made that up and it’s not on there because Youngbloodz hasn’t been active in years) but is still one of my favorite songs ever. It had to be on here.
But anyway, here it is: