The ATLiens Have Landed

This comprehensive piece interviews half a dozen Atlanta underground Rap vets, who recall a healthy harbor for NYC talent, and DJ Drama's little-known transition from Binkis Recs to Gangsta Grillz.

Researched and Written by Phillip Mlynar

All eyes are on Atlanta rapper B.o.B. right now. With his chart-topping debut album, B.o.B. Presents The Adventures of Bobby Ray, the young ATLien is aiming to join his city's Hip Hop icons Ludacris, Young Jeezy, OutKast and T.I. as certified Rap royalty. But long before Bobby Ray was staking his claim, and before Atlanta became a hit-making Hip Hop mecca, a small group of local artists started to sew the seeds for a self-sufficient underground hip-hop scene at the turn of the '90s.

With bass music dominant on the Atlanta party circuit, cats like Christopher X (now recording for Stones Throw under the name CX KIDTRONIK, then a member of K.I.N.) and H20 (now of Massinfluence, then with Yall So Stupid) found themselves part of an organic group of upcoming artists unafraid to get creative and mix their influences together. Their sound was as likely to throw in a sample of the Beastie Boys or add guitars to the mix as they were to endorse the trappings of booty-shake music or Gangsta Rap. It was a sonic blend and open-minded attitude that became influential to the independent mentality of future A-Town artists like Senor Kaos and Flux of Binkis Recs. As Talib Shabazz, owner of the town's Earwax Records, maintains, the turn of the '90s was the start of a whole new era for Atlanta Hip Hop...

H20: I moved to Atlanta in September of 1990. Nothing was happening with Hip Hop – it was all R&B; LaFace Records was running it. This was an era before OutKast and even before Jermaine Dupri. I had graduated out of high school two years before, moved to Atlanta, ran into Spearhead X, who started Yall So Stupid. I saw the underground Atlanta scene from the minute it started.

CX KIDTRONIK: The Hip Hop scene was weird in those days. You had a lot of booty music, bass music, 'cos that's the culture there with the strip clubs. It was music like Luke and 2 Live Crew would make. Though I remember Big Gipp from Goodie Mob at that time in a group called East Point Chain Gang. Lil Jon was a deejay at the time who would play House music and throw these parties called "Fried Chicken & O.E." The chicken and beer would all be gone within minutes! When he first came out with the East Side Boyz, they were on some booty music.

Senor Kaos: My earliest memory of Hip Hop in Atlanta would probably be like Splack Pack, bass music. This was the very early-'90s. OutKast and Goodie Mob and Ghetto Mafia didn't really hit until '93.

Talib Shabazz: It's fair to say that bass music was dominating then. Atlanta's Hip Hop artists were mostly on the booty-shaking side. In '93 at Earwax Records we were selling a lot of booty-shake records.

H20: There was an early Hip Hop crew called Too Krazy, and there was a group called K.I.N. that was Christopher X's group. Saul Williams was in that group also. Those dudes were dope!

CX KIDTRONIK: K.I.N. stood for Knowledge In the Name of our ancestors. It was a group that I came into. The main guy was Andre Henderson, whose name in the group was E=MC2. Our sound was very political, very theatrical – we'd sample Meat Beat Manifesto or "Too Many Puppies" by Primus, which we mixed with the end of the Beastie Boys' "The New Style." It was kinda like a Public Enemy sound but more Industrial and mixed with faster Punk Rock.

H20: K.I.N. was typical of live music in Atlanta at that time 'cause everyone played instruments. Even R&B groups would play their instruments; it was rarely programmed beats. Actually, Yall So Stupid were one of the first groups that was able to get involved in that circuit without having a band.

Talib Shabazz: Three groups really kicked off the Atlanta scene: KI.N, Yall So Stupid, and Too Krazy. K.I.N. was an integral part of the scene at that time. Christopher X was one of those people that's ahead of their time.

CX KIDTRONIK: Our stage show was crazy. We'd have three small trampolines on stage that we kept jumping on. Saul Williams was a dancer for us, and the other kid is now the deejay for the Nappy Roots, Sol Messiah. He was also a breakdancer for us. We opened for every big Hip Hop band that passed through Atlanta: Cypress Hill, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest... But we never got to release any music. We were talking about that in the last days before we ended it. At one point we were going to be the first group on Dallas Austin's Rowdy Records, but we ended things. Rowdy wound up going with Yall So Stupid and Illegal.

Senor Kaos: Some of the bigger acts that started to emerge then were Raheem The Dream, Kilo, Ghetto Mafia, The A Town Players... Then as the mid-'90s came up the Dungeon Family started to take over with OutKast, Goodie Mob, Rico Wade's Organized Noize and all those cats on the scene representing.

H20: At that point you were either on a major label or you weren't. OutKast and Goodie Mob was out and on majors, but you started to see a lot of indie records coming in.

Independents Rising

Come the mid-'90s and OutKast and Goodie Mob's Organized Noize-produced sound was on the up. But as Andre 3000 and his associates saw their major-label-backed profile increase around the world, back home in Atlanta the next generation of hip-hop artists were beginning to see the virtue of putting their faith in the independent route. Inspired by news of the beginnings of a buoyant, grass-roots indie rap scene in New York, astute heads in Atlanta embraced the sound of Company Flow, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Bobbito Garcia's Fondle 'Em roster.

At that time Atlanta benefitted from an infrastructure suited to supporting indie rap music: Earwax Records provided a focal meeting spot and venue for in-stores; Talib Shabazz's radio show brought news of the latest underground songs from New York; locally-based publications like Elemental and Frank 151 helped spread the word about the A-Town's underground artists. Soon, out-of-town indie acts started to head to Atlanta to perform, while in return Massinfluence became indie ambassadors for Atlanta around the world...

Senor Kaos: Earwax Records was like a staple of the Atlanta indie scene. It closed late last year, but that was the number one record store here. If anyone was doing an in-store signing, it was there. It was right in the middle of Midtown, not in the 'hood, so you felt safe going there. There was definitely a community of people who were involved in the scene there, who knew all the artists, all the deejays, and all the hot shit. It was the spot to network and be seen on the indie scene.

Talib Shabazz: We were on Peachtree Street, so very conveniently located. Even though everyone says there's a hundred Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, there's only one that runs down through town and we were on it. We were right next door to Club Kaya, which during that time period got famous for DJ Nabs doing his old school Sundays.

H20: Earwax Records was the spot, and there was also another place called Tape Masters but it was in a flea market in downtown Atlanta, at Five Points.

Flux: Earwax was always the first place for me to go to get records. They was on Peachtree Street. They used to have these house parties on Sundays and all the in-stores. I remember being there and seeing [Notorious B.I.G.] and Craig Mack when they came down. Craig Mack had brought along EPMD's old deejay, K La Boss. Everything Craig Mack did he was rhyming, whether just talking or signing records – so he'd write, "To my man Flux / With the nun-chucks / Kickin' like Bruce Lee!"

Senor Kaos: Back then in Atlanta you had the resources to make people pay attention to the independent scene. You had two magazines based in Atlanta that were promoting Atlanta Hip Hop, Frank 151 and Elemental. You might live in Charlotte or Miami but you'd get a copy of them and that would open your eyes to the Atlanta scene. It created a situation where these bigger indie labels outside in New York and California would know about the scene. It lead to cats like Massinfluence and Micranots taking their music wider.

Talib Shabazz: Understand this: Atlanta's always had an independent rap scene from the '80s with cats like MC Mojo and even [MC] Shy-D started off independent. But when we started seeing really lyrical content was when you had groups like Yall So Stupid who brought through a generation of cats who came up listening to them – it was then that you started to have Micranots, Starhh Tha Femcee, Binkis Records... It was that early independent spirit that fueled the fire.

H20: The college radio stations would play lots of indie records, but often Atlanta artists themselves didn't put out their own indie records: You had like a Senor Kaos, who had a group called Vintage Imperial at the time, and Binkis Recs, who put out a record through Bobbito's Fruit Meat [Records] label. Cognito in our crew [Massinfluence] would take trips back and forth to New York to converse with the labels and deejays there.

Senor Kaos: From the New York indie artists, Company Flow was definitely getting played on the Atlanta underground scene. Georgia Tech and Georgia State radio stations would play them, the early MF DOOM songs, all the stuff on Fondle 'Em [Records], all the stuff on Rawkus [Records]. Lyricist Lounge was doing shows down here – you might have Goodie Mob being on the show but then there would also be a Punchline or a Wordsworth performing from New York, or a Co Flow or a J Treds. It was kinda meshing the two scenes together.

CX KIDTRONIK: One beat that I heard a roommate play for me that really influenced me was Company Flow's "The Fire In Which You Burn Slow." I'd always play that.

Senor Kaos: I remember when the Arsonists were huge coming out here and doing shows. Same with Non-Phixion, Scienz Of Life and Dilated Peoples.

Talib Shabazz: This was the Rawkus era! I'd play all their stuff on my radio show. Also, Dilated Peoples or anything on ABB Records, and even later on cats like Akrobatik and [MC] Paul Barman.

John Robinson: One of the first links we [Scienz Of Life] made was with a publication that still exists today, in New York, which was Frank 151. Actually, the first show we ever did in Atlanta, they sponsored us and brought us down there. There was a Fat Beats there. We had a nice foundation of people that were already in tune.

H20: "Tried By 12" [by The East Flatbush Project] did really good in Atlanta; that was an instant hit. Co Flow records did well, and of course all the Rawkus stuff. Cognito, from our group Massinfluence, was actually doing promotions for Rawkus at that time. We had a hook up for bringing the Lyricist Lounge to Atlanta. I think that was the first time that Talib Kweli and Co Flow performed outside of New York. It was at this place called Club Kaya. It's the type of place where you'd now see P Diddy or Jay-Z having a birthday party. But that night, everybody who loved Hip Hop was there. Kweli performed, Co Flow performed, we had Big Gipp hosting it. I remember having a conversation with Kweli and him saying he didn't know they knew about the music out here. El-P was on stage saying, "I ain't even know my records went this far!" That was one of the nights that we got real tight with Mr. Len. We put in a little Company Flow reference on the cover of Massinfluence's "All Out b/w Analyze" 12-inch.

Flux: Locally, you had Micranots and then of course Massinfluence. There was also a group called Partz Unknown, Lyrical Giants... Binkis formed in 1997. It was a spin-off by me and my man, Jax out of a group called N.E.B.L.O.S.

Senor Kaos: Vintage Imperial was my crew. It was me and a homie who I went to high school with. We clicked instantly 'cause we were both different from a lot that was going on in Atlanta – we wasn't talking about rims and smoking weed and getting drunk, our subject matter was a little different. This was in around '98.

CX KIDTRONIK: I remember hearing Massinfluence on BET or some shit!

Senor Kaos: Massinfluence were the home-town heroes! At the time, they were the biggest Atlanta cats doing independent music. They had the best show; their stage show was crazy. You didn't want to perform after Mass 'cos they'd shut it down! They put out quality 12-inches and they had their business together. They found a way to stay independent but not stay local. A lot of cats were like, "Oh, I'm the shit in Atlanta!" But Mass were like, "No, we're the shit, period!" I respected those cats like my big brothers. Once they started hitting MTV and being in Blaze magazine, you'd see them walking down the street, doing their shit independently, and that gave hope to other people in the city.

Flux: Massinfluence was very influential. They were touring worldwide. I know Jax saw them as very inspirational business wise. Mass was like our brothers from another era. We connected with them and got to tour with them – which was how we ended up connecting with Count Bass D.

H20: We got brought over to Europe with DJ Typhoon. We went across Scandinavia, built with Boulevard Connection. I love those brothers. We'd be put on bills with like The Arsonists and High & Mighty. But before Massinfluence began performing there was a group called Datbu who released their own LP and got a lot of love in Atlanta. DJ Kemit from Arrested Development was in that group and the female emcee in their crew, named Divinity, is now the bass player for Beyonce. They motivated us to go outside of the Atlanta area.

DJ Drama's Hour

DJ Drama is known worldwide for his Gangsta Grillz empire. But before he was crafting mainstream mixtapes for Jeezy and Weezy, he was selling smooth R&B blend tapes, spinning underground Hip Hop like Company Flow and Mos Def, and very much a cog in the Atlanta indie Rap scene thanks to his early role in Binkis Recs. But as the '90s rolled on, Drama sensed an impending shift in the Hip Hop landscape and dabbled with a new sound. It was a move that paid off financially, as his one-time peers recall...

H20: DJ Drama was in Binkis Records as an underground Hip Hop deejay first. He was playing Company Flow, Mos Def, anything out of New York. He was originally from Philly and played all the grass-roots stuff.

Flux: DJ Drama was actually in Binkis around the time we created it, along with my man Spice, Mike Self and Jax. They were all going to school at Clark Atlanta University at that time. When Jax didn't enroll in his third year, he started working at Marco's Pita, which was an independently-owned black pita shop. They opened a new store and asked Jax to manage it. He had Spice and Drama work for him. That's how those relationships got built. When we started Binkis, Drama was the first deejay.

Senor Kaos: At first Drama was putting out what gets termed that "real Hip Hop" shit. It was blend tapes, Automatic Relaxation, smoother Hip Hop and R&B, then straight underground Hip Hop like Co Flow, Non-Phixion, Scienz Of Life and them. Drama was spinning those cats back in the game.

H20: I hooked up with him just seeing him in the A. I was doing illustrations and artwork for his first mixtapes called Automatic Relaxation, which was all slow R&B jams like Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. I probably did about 20 covers for Drama. He had a stand down at the college where he sold his CDs by hand, making money there and then. Every week he'd hand me a CD, a playlist and the money at the same time – I could have been on his payroll! The first Gangsta Grills was actually number two. Gangsta Grills Volume One was a promo that he gave out to people at the college just to see if they were feeling it. This was when Ludacris and Three 6 Mafia were first blowing up, and he was seeing more and more of these types of people asking him things like, "You don't have no Trick Daddy on there?" So he came with a new mix and asked me what I thought of it. I said, "So are you gonna be spinning this from now on?" He said, "I'm just selling a CD, I've got to have music on there that people want." Then he came back with part two which was mixed a whole lot better. He said people were eating that shit up. Next thing you know, you wasn't seeing any more Automatic Relaxation or Glamorous Life mixtapes from him, none of that stuff he was making his money off before.

Senor Kaos: Things just shifted and Drama realized that making mixtapes with a certain type of music on it wasn't getting him the attention and the money he wanted, so he went for a more commercial thing.

H20: It's funny, he actually didn't put the 'z' in Gangsta Grillz until about four or five CDs in to the series – he spelt it with an 's' at first. He got a drop from somebody who said, "That gangsta grizz-illz" and that was when it changed.

The Fall And The Resurrection

As the year 2000 approached, the underground independent Hip Hop scene in Atlanta found itself going through some changes. In tandem with the local infrastructure beginning to disappear, DJ Drama's prophecy about the type of Hip Hop people wanted to hear came true and rap music from Atlanta started to become synonymous with the club-ready, trap-Rap that dominates the charts today. Slowly, the focus on Atlanta indie Rap faded.

But those still active on the Atlanta underground maintain that now, in 2010, it's as creative as ever and prepped for a resurgence. Later this year Massinfluence will drop a new project with new member Rubix; CX KIDTRONIK is putting together a solo album for Stones Throw Records that features DOOM; Flux is carrying on the Binkis legacy and working on a documentary; Senor Kaos is finishing up his album, The Kaos Effect; and Shabazz runs the recording spot Solar Sound Studio. Throw in the increasing number of out-of-town rappers deciding to move to the A, plus a new generation of artists like Aleon Craft and Hollyweerd bringing a fresh, hipper twist on Atlanta Rap, and the scene seems set to once more shine...

Senor Kaos: Slowly, things in the Atlanta scene disappeared. Elemental went to New York, Frank 151 went to New York. People weren't checking for Atlanta indie Rap 'cause they didn't know what was going on out here. Then the climate of the music changed. The pre-Crunk era was starting to gain momentum in Atlanta so the more lyrical stuff took a back seat. It was like going back to the early-'90s with the Bass music in that you had to have a dance to go with your song. The artists were still here but the climate of the music had changed, and with that there were no more indie labels outside of Atlanta wanting to put out Atlanta music like Massinfluence and Micranots.

H20: Looking back, you had a lot of groups in Atlanta that didn't really put out records. You didn't really start seeing a whole lot of Atlanta groups until this thing with the Internet popped up and blogs and free shareware and trading downloads started to happen. Now everybody can see everybody!

Talib Shabazz: I just think things changed and it went further underground. After the turn of the century the mainstream got focussed on Atlanta and you didn't really hear about the underground. That just forced the underground to go really underground.

Senor Kaos: There's a stigma about being from Atlanta that says that you've got to be rapping about selling dope and white tees and old school Cutlasses with the rims on it. That's cool, and it's definitely part of Atlanta's history, but at the same time you got people in Atlanta who are influenced by music outside of Atlanta and that reflects in what they do.

Flux: The indie scene is always here – it's just the times and the methods have changed. Some groups stopped doing stuff, some groups broke up. You've still got Mass doing it. You've got a lot of cats moving here since the early-2000s: MF DOOM moved here, Scienz Of Life, Count Bass D's just moved down here. We've got a lot of people still coming through, and a lot of groups in Atlanta are just underexposed.

Talib Shabazz: Atlanta's new wave is really sick! I'm just waiting for someone to figure out how to put these guys on a national level. I mean Aleon Craft is Big Marc from the Backwudz, and this dude's shit is phenomenal! Atlanta's underground right now is a real diamond – we just had to go through those years of coal.

Purchase Music by CX KIDTRONIK

Purchase Music by Señor Kaos

Purchase Music by Yall So Stupid

Purchase Music by Binkis Recs

Purchase Music by John Robinson

46 Comments

  • Wholeteam Kysii

    Wow yep this takes me back...lived down the hall from Christopher X! we used to trade lyrics and stay up on the latest lp's that were dropping at the time. My business partner at Wholeteam, Glen aka Gemz ran with Ya'll So Stupid, X, etc...in fact he did the intro on the video above...all my cats, Smitty, Nando, Corazy, Kwab...thick in the clique...Those were the good ol' days....Shout out to Talib for posting this on FB and letting me read this dope article!

  • starchildblunted

    right know atlanta got some hot independent groups out that on some classic shit you got I.L. from Ikeepitclassic , you got the Mighty NetWork ( which is crazy funky group dem nigguz like ugk with a band -sick ) then u got the 5ive ( lyrical dopeness) and check out my niggas Young Blitz, Cy hi da Prince , Travis Porter , Grip Playaz , Produx( classic ) , Jam Poet oh yeah the scene iz Thick . Chuuuch !!!!!!!

  • wyndero

    Shy-d is orginally from New York, he is the 2nd cousin of Africa Bambatta, although bam never outwordly supported his music. DJ Toomp was the DJ for Rahim and Shy-d, he was the man at Therrell High School ( near greenbriar mall) way back in the day (83-84) The article is OK but you guys have a very one sided opinion of how the scene was then, KILO was more releveant and had more positive things to say than all the Yall so stupids, and kidtronik, h20 type of groups. Cocaine by kilo is a classic record that has everything in it that a hit should have. Dope beat, great subject matter, hook is tight and its so positive. There's only one problem, he does not associated with "new york" media or the like. Where in a guy such as yourself would, that leaves an incredible record with a melody that 50 cent or drake would die for out in the cold, in the late 80' and today as you did'nt give him his just due. Not to knock you but, its no differnent than me doing an article on new york rap, I'm gonna leave something out because I'm not from there.

  • the instigator

    lemme comment on somethin right quick......... one of the reason why "hip hop" (read: new york style flows and beats) never really took off in GA like that was b/c "hip hoppers" were actin like they werent from where they were from: GA. they wanted to be from new york, rappin like they was from b.k. or the bronx and southern cats aint like that. they was wearing new york mets and yankees, but from decatur, etc. me and my homie grew up in military bases and our folks settled in GA. southern folks were always askin us where we were from, b/c we didnt talk country. northern folks who didnt hear the twang, would ask us if we were from new york. bottom line, we grew up listenin to new york stuff, thats what we imitated, in our own way, of course cause we wudnt no biters like bazillions of cats out here now. so when outkast and goodie mob came out, southerners were lovin that. why? cause they rapped like "new yorkers", but talked like down south folk. and cause the repped where they actually were from, you have the beginning of the love story with the braves "A" cap, that hip-hoppers backthen wouldnt dare wear, unless they were really really stylin on em, with the exception of phife: he was the only new york rapper i ever remember seeing wearing a georgia tech cap and a braves cap, if im not mistaken. so finally, in outkast and goodie mob somebody lyrical most southerners could relate to on a complete level. i never heard any of the above mentioned guys records. but more than likely, they sounded, wore and acted "new yorkish"........and probably still do. so they should give props to the southern sounding hip hoppers to pave the way for them to actually rep where they are from.

    • H2O_atlanta

      Also rockin the Braves cap early (right before Outlkast's Player's Ball) = A-Plus from Souls Of Mischief (Oakland) - Summer of 1993. Check the "93' Til Infinity" video and 12-inch cover. Them boys was all about Atlanta and it wasn't becuz of sports.

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  • DJ UnderGround

    The part with Drama was a big surprise. Wow... What's independent when you run for 'what's in?' for money? Isn't that the purpose of being INDEPENDENT?! Not having to answer to someone else? Doing things free from your mind and not by an illogical demand from someone else? He said people wanted to hear Trick Daddy etc. Thats one problem. We have allowed the elites to #1 influence artists (young and old) on what type of music needs to be released instead of being influenced from our own hearts. #2 Get into our audiences heads as well to link all this fabricated, fasade of a lifestyle with music. We let them influence how we party, how we fellowship with each other, how we connect with one another. These artists, DJs and alike are the onesthat should be in control of what is presented to the masses. NOT THE ELITES OR EVEN THE AUDIENCE. 80% of people on a wide scale are followers. If you get enough people to start wearing mop buckets on top of their heads as a style, people would eventually follow. In the same perspective, if more artists on a wide scale released conscious and progressive music (whether independent or mainstream) to the level where thats the majority of what you hear, people would have no choice but to listen. But it starts with the performers. If every club in Atlanta would start playing underground hip hop and alike, yeah, the numbers may go down for a minute, but do you really think people will stop going to clubs as a whole? Hell nall! Hell it will bring people in with more substance. Believe it or not, there are CEOs and folk with REAL MONEY that loves independent, underground stuff but complains that there is not enough of it. It starts with us.. PERIOD!!! Big ups to everybody who laid the groundwork for indie music and real hip hop in an area where the influence was not and still not as prevalent. I definitely understand being from Alabama of the lackness. Special love to the peeps out there staying true to this music and not venturing off into the commercial sector... Hey, its cool to try other things, venture out and be versatile, but if its something that can ultimately ruin people, our young and their way of thinking i.e. shyt like gucci and waka flacka, it was dead from the start no matter how much money is going to be made. That's another problem, people trade in morals and ways to build people through music for the 'quick fix' or to 'make money.' I asked a cat one time, If you had an opportunity to do a show for a $G doing a typical 'money, cars, women, ballin' type of show knowingly that it will influence somebody to go out and do something bad (like crime) trying to get to that same 'quick fix' that was in your rhyme and a show built around positive, progressive vibes that may help/save somebody's life in the audience but you will only get about $400, he of course said the first show. Until we can break this mentality, its all a lost cause. There's a time and place for everything but without a balance, EVERYBODY lose....

    • Gumar

      Yeah I feel you dunny, but a lot of these underground cats is funny niggas. Not haha funny, but herb funny. I like the music but can't dig the vibe. They rap about smackin this and smackin that but wouldn't bust a grape in a fruit fight. I ain't with all that. Underground or commercial, I like realness. Some niggas hustle. If they rap about it thats cool with me. As long as they did it. Some niggas feed the homeless, thats admirable. If they rap about it thats cool, long as they did it. Some of these niggas is just wolves in sheeps clothing. Thats why a lot of people don't mess with them.The realest niggas in Atlanta underground will probably never shine cause of all the politics. Yes there are polotics and gatekeepers on every level. Thats why you see the same cats on these underground shows. No disrespect to them, but I dont want to see the same niggas every 3 weeks.

  • DJ UnderGround

    The part with Drama was a big surprise. Wow... What's independent when you run for 'what's in?' for money? Isn't that the purpose of being INDEPENDENT?! Not having to answer to someone else? Doing things free from your mind and not by an illogical demand from someone else? He said people wanted to hear Trick Daddy etc. Thats one problem. We have allowed the elites to #1 influence artists (young and old) on what type of music needs to be released instead of being influenced from our own hearts. #2 Get into our audiences heads as well to link all this fabricated, fasade of a lifestyle with music. We let them influence how we party, how we fellowship with each other, how we connect with one another. These artists, DJs and alike are the onesthat should be in control of what is presented to the masses. NOT THE ELITES OR EVEN THE AUDIENCE. 80% of people on a wide scale are followers. If you get enough people to start wearing mop buckets on top of their heads as a style, people would eventually follow. In the same perspective, if more artists on a wide scale released conscious and progressive music (whether independent or mainstream) to the level where thats the majority of what you hear, people would have no choice but to listen. But it starts with the performers. If every club in Atlanta would start playing underground hip hop and alike, yeah, the numbers may go down for a minute, but do you really think people will stop going to clubs as a whole? Hell nall! Hell it will bring people in with more substance. Believe it or not, there are CEOs and folk with REAL MONEY that loves independent, underground stuff but complains that there is not enough of it. It starts with us.. PERIOD!!! Big ups to everybody who laid the groundwork for indie music and real hip hop in an area where the influence was not and still not as prevalent. I definitely understand being from Alabama of the lackness. Special love to the peeps out there staying true to this music and not venturing off into the commercial sector... Hey, its cool to try other things, venture out and be versatile, but if its something that can ultimately ruin people, our young and their way of thinking i.e. shyt like gucci and waka flacka, it was dead from the start no matter how much money is going to be made. That's another problem, people trade in morals and ways to build people through music for the 'quick fix' or to 'make money.' I asked a cat one time, If you had an opportunity to do a show for a $G doing a typical 'money, cars, women, ballin' type of show knowingly that it will influence somebody to go out and do something bad (like crime) trying to get to that same 'quick fix' that was in your rhyme and a show built around positive, progressive vibes that may help/save somebody's life in the audience but you will only get about $400, he of course said the first show. Until we can break this mentality, its all a lost cause. There's a time and place for everything but without a balance, EVERYBODY lose....

  • Yo!

    Good read. Atlanta always had different energies flowin through it. You could tap into whatever you chose. I listen to the "trap hop" just as much as I listen to the "underground". It all has a place in my life. It all has a purpose. Art imitates life. Atlanta is semi-divided. There are like 3 different undergrounds. They occaisionally mesh, but it's rare. The reason the underground here don't get more shine is cause cats rarely have the total package. They got lyrics but not the quality control or knowledge of how to present it efficiently and effectively. I guess thats why it's called the music BUSINESS. Two of the better albums I've heard(and purchased) this year were Black Noise (Illastrate and Aarophat) and Adrift Da Belle-Garden State Parkway. These albums should be getting attention all over but I dont think a plan was put together to execute such promotion. Oh well. But then I'll turn around and bump Jeezy's Trap or Die 2. That shit will be everywhere and Underground cats will complain about not getting the same shine. If you want to gain more exposure get your business together. If not. Just rap for fun. There is nothing wrong with rapping for fun. Thats how it started.

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  • MYLIE

    the only thing the atlanta hip hop scene should be proud of is giving the world OutKast and Dungeon Family the rest are pretty much pure garbage and its no different today.

    • G.R.E.A.T. SCOTT

      You clearly 1. Dont lie in ATL and 2. Dont know what the fuck your talking about. click that G.R.E.A.T. SCOTT link above.

  • chuck chizzle

    in '94-'95 is when i heard of Yall So Stupid and thought it was dope. i remember thinking that was like what Freestyle Fellowship (Project Blowed) was to me (im in l.a.), but in atlanta. then they had goodie mob AND OUTKAST?!?! shiiiit. but one thing i wanna point out.. being locally respect & recognized IS NOT the same thing as "dominating the music scene". for as many unknown artists in atl, there are as many in l.a., dallas, ny, germany, japan, etc. i can name 10 cats in l.a. who are doing their thing here, but may not even be known in the bay!

  • Handilla

    "It's almost to the point to where if Outkast doesn't put out a record soon, THEY might be irrelevant (exaggerating but still feeling a need to say it)." Truth (sadly).

  • H2O_atlanta

    Phillip Mlynar is a very thorough writer and almost an extremist of rap in general. He wrote an article for Unkut dot-com entitled "Five Reasons Why Rap Can't Mourn It's Dearly Departed". One of the reasons in this article was "rap eats its elders"... as he explains today's youth being more concerned with finding the next best thing, without valuing what brought it to be. This is exactly what's happening to Atlanta and it's not taking long for the history to be erased. Last summer in the A, Goodie Mob performed for the 1st time in years... and they called the campaign "Remember Atlanta". This being becuz the new leagues of southern rap have all but squeezed them out of the picture. To me, the Dungeon Family's contribution to rap should never be overlooked, taken for granted nor ever be close to forgotten... but it's going there. It's almost to the point to where if Outkast doesn't put out a record soon, THEY might be irrelevant (exaggerating but still feeling a need to say it). In my generation, we looked up to our elders in rap... we took notes from them, asked them questions and they pointed us in the right directions every time. Today's generation doesn't even respect their parents, which makes sense of the results we're getting. ATL... we sincerely need your intelligence back.

    • H2O_atlanta

      I'll tell you this much, I've seen this same A-Town full of venues that wouldn't allow 2 turntables and a microphone to set up. Not becuz the music was new or foreign, but becuz there was no money for the venues to make from it. The support for hip-hop from any area wasn't there on a constant, social, day-to-day level. Folks diss NY's influence but Atlanta didn't have a national hip-hop pressence until Kriss Kross - who without Naughty By Nature's influence wouldn't have existed. The original sound of Atlanta hip-hop will always be bass music and i bring that up to say this, where is it today? 90% of the kids in today's Atlanta rap world wouldn't know what to do with a bass record. The same thing with intelligent lyrics, southern pride and respect - which is what the Dungeon Family brought to hip-hop on a whole. These movements are being removed from Atlanta's history and being replaced with straight ignorance. There has never been this much violence or incarcerations or lack of balance in Atlanta's music scene ever. Perhaps we should go back to the days of venue owners closing doors in our faces.

    • uzipolo-king of decatur

      outkast been irevelent they are soooooooo out of touch with the A and dont have a clue of whats going on in the streets of just making music that slams but what they do is make songs for hoes instead of real niggas which is the same thing that jeezy and ti do yeah they ake hard songs on they mixtapes but when it comes to they albulms i cant tell the difference betwen them and the doobie brothers but all in al outkast is the best rap duo ever as far as outkast i saw the renuion concert at the masquarde last year and it made me wanna cry to them them like that all hapy and put on a perfect perfomannce when they should have did this all along there is no loyality in the group thats what i picked up on and celo just really reuined the situation when he left and they never bounced back i think the smartest thin for them to do is to do shows all over the world and get paid for being a old school rap circuit act because if they put out another cd you can best belive nobody is going to by it and ofcourse it wll follow the same thing i said earlier they will make songs for these dumb ass hoes instead of they male fan base since im from the ELDERS OF RAP geration i have a slight better input on the ATL scence we are the best when t comes to hip hop in clothing style geography and dance thats why we have been no 1 on the radio nationwide in rap for over 20 years it kills me to belive that people think we just are hot right now when we have been hot all along thats why people steal our style of music and pay big bucks for it and want to come down here so bad and kiss our ass and steal our dance moves on every video and every dance show we never had a DROUGHT when it came to rap music..never as far as the new generation i mean let them kids do they thang because obviosly they are making an impact in this rap game, i mean somebody buying it and as usual new york wants to jump on our bandwagon to gain exposure fromus and try to steal our shine on the slick tip but we as Atalieans always have a trick up our sleeve to stay on top so let the kids have at it because ig to so tired of hearing new york this and new york this and they were no harder or had no better beats than we did but because they were from new york it was so biased it didnt make any sense says uzipolo king of decatur

    • chuck chizzle

      EXCELLENT point!!! my buddies and i talk about this ALL THE TIME. its a new generation of THE LATEST & GREATEST and its ruining hip hop. it hurts so bad when my kid is jerkin' with his crew and listening to crap, but i leave him alone. when i pop in Ras Kass' Soul On Ice, he's like "whats with this old stuff?"

  • 2DamTrill

    Yo ATL been going strong for a while now, I remember the first showcase wit Yall So Stupid, Highland Place Mobsters & P.A.

    • H2O_atlanta

      Right on to that. P.A. was signed to Pebbles and she held them up from doing what they were wanting to. I always felt that if L.A. Reid was a few years ahead of his hip-hop venture, he'd have snatched them from her when she finally threw in the towel. More proof of R&B's music mogul stance. Big up to Highland Place, it's a shame Dallas didn't put them on Rowdy. Me and Chip used to live together.

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  • Kid Captain Coolout

    Phillip Mlynar is a very thorough writer and also an extremist of rap music in general. He wrote an article for Unkut.com entitled "Five Reasons Why Rap Can't Mourn It's Dearly Departed". One of the reasons in this article was "rap eats its elders"... as he explains today's youth being more concerned with finding the next best thing, without valuing what brought it to be. This is exactly what's happening to Atlanta and it's not taking long for the history to be erased. Goodie Mob had their 1st show together in years, last summer in the A... and they called the campaign "Remember Atlanta". This being becuz the new leagues of southern rap have all but squeezed them out of the picture. To me, the Dungeon Family's contribution to rap should never be overlooked, taken for granted nor ever be close to forgotten... but it's going there. It's almost to the point to where if Outkast doesn't put out a record soon, THEY might be irrelevant (exaggerating but still feeling a need to say it). In my generation, we looked up to our elders in rap... we took notes from them, asked them questions and they pointed us in the right directions every time. Today's generation doesn't even respect their parents, which makes sense of the results we're getting. ATL... we sincerely need your intelligence back.

  • Brannon

    Dope article. That Yall So Stupid video was dope, I need more. Shouts to all the ill cats doin things in the A now that weren't mentioned in this article. Clan Destined! Dillon! The Nice Guise! Conspiracy! Arablak! more...

  • H2O_atlanta

    Phillip Mlynar is a very thorough writer and also an extremist of rap music in general. He wrote an article for www.Unkut.com entitled "Five Reasons Why Rap Can't Mourn It's Dearly Departed". One of the reasons in this article was "rap eats its elders"... as he explains today's youth being more concerned with finding the next best thing, without valuing what brought it to be. This is exactly what's happening to Atlanta and it's not taking long for the history to be erased. Goodie Mob had their 1st show together in years, last summer in the A... and they called the campaign "Remember Atlanta". This being becuz the new leagues of southern rap have all but squeezed them out of the picture. To me, the Dungeon Family's contribution to rap should never be overlooked, taken for granted nor ever be close to forgotten... but it's going there. It's almost to the point to where if Outkast doesn't put out a record soon, THEY might be irrelevant (exaggerating but still feeling a need to say it). In my generation, we looked up to our elders in rap... we took notes from them, asked them questions and they pointed us in the right directions every time. Today's generation doesn't even respect their parents, which makes sense of the results we're getting. ATL... we sincerely need your intelligence back.

  • H.J.

    Definitely feeling this. The world needs to know what those clowns like Young Jeezy (Young Peezy), Lil Jon (Lil Jerk) and T.I. (Mamma's Boy) are not just what Atlanta is about. We have better and more creative artists than anywhere else but all they talk about in the mainstream is that trap and crack crap. Our scene is so rich and full of history and untold stories that places like NY and LA just don't know about. Hopefully this is the start of people getting up on Atlanta's real history so that in the future we're not just stereotyped as criminals rapping about drugs. And I agree - the future of the A-Town is gonna be bright. It's prepped to blow!

  • Taxi Jon

    Props for showing the world that we ain't all just jeezy and trap music. I'm proud of the A's heritage - and those NY cats recognized real. Good times in those days. Now let's bring 'em back with these new underground creative soldiers. Atl on the up again!!

  • Martay

    Nice Article on ATL underground. As a small part of it (Reign of Terror) I got to do shows with Y'all So Stupid and K-I-N back then. There was a great vibe and definitely a burgeoning scene. Talib and Randall definitely were the cats who fueled the scene in terms of radio back then and of course Ear Wax was the spot to buy vinyl (at least for me). Definitely nice to see all those folks like Too Krazy, etc not forgotten. We're trying to capture a little of that spirit of ATL early 90s underground in our new feature film "Battle"...so check it out and grab a FREE mixtape that features lots of ATL underground cats doing work right now...at www.battle-movie.com peace, Martay

  • Y

    KIN were awesome live. Saw them cats open for many shows. Revolutionary!

    • Martay

      Definitely brought energy and uniqueness to to it. Had the pleasure to perform with them at Georgia Tech (Reign of Terror). -Martay

  • G.R.E.A.T. SCOTT

    I thank everyone who represented in this artice. The ATL music scene is far more diverse than most people will ever know. For nearly every genre of music Atlanta has both Underground and Mainstream artist.BIG Respect to H20 who helped gain exposure for my squad CULT OF ICON back in the late 90's via The Lyricist Lounge. I recall talkin to Gipp the night he hosted before Club Kaya became ultra jiggy Club Visions. Talib, Mos Def, Co Flow, and others were ALWAYS shocked that ATL was so heavy on the Hip Hop. Peace to spearhead X and Talib as well. And now,?... the ruggedness. Click that G.R.E.A.T. SCOTT link above.

  • uzipolo-king of decatur

    great article this is not surprising to me because atlanta ga has been dominating the music scene for the last 40 years so i really dont se the surprise and shock where people think this is new to us i mean you can go back to james brown or gladys night, mc shy d raheem the dream..and now gucci and wacka to know this is true i remember talib shabazz used to host kiss rocks the spot here i atlanta in the mid-late 80s' it was played late at night around 12.00-until i used to listento this constently as a teenager every saturday he was very instrumental of bringing new york rap music to the air waves here in atlanta as well as breaking world premire demos of new york acts..once he had the demo of the doo wop song by ll cool j which was dope and sounded better than the orginal shabazz also had artist that he managed as well here in atlanta 2 that comes to mind were joe cool and lord raw that he played on his radio staion and also a number of local artist in atlanta at that time where he had a spot on the station to play new music from up and comming artist that wasnt bas-oriented but UP NORTH influence earwax-shabazz and jazz ran earwax records this was the best record store in atlanta(yes record store) where you would by vinly the only other store that was even close to competing with this is wax n facts in little five points on moreland ave in atlanta ear wax was located on peachtre/10th street(yes everybody in they mama think peachtree has many street which is TRUE but not like you think ..like peachtree street runs into peachtree road even people FROM ATLANTA dont know that) next door to ear wax was club kaya the best club in midtown if not atlanta it had 3 sections of the club with 3 dj's playing 3 different kinds of music which was unheard of at the time the only way you could really see this if you were at strawberries record store up north)earwax then moved downtown in a little cut not to far from centineial park then closed down afterwards they used to have parties inside the record store on saturdays where they would clear out the sore and mad way for the dancefloor and you paid to get in this was great mastermind concept i guess they were competing with club anytime across the street this was also the time when pimping on peachtree street in midtown WAs HUGE i mean it was nothing to see hoes walk up and down the crosswalk and the pimps all be together in this open parking lot which is changed to a car detaling shop now shy-d-well well this was the FIRST MC in atlanta or GEORGIA to go platnum with the hit single shake it that people still play all over legas night clubs and was featured in 3 movies and also is played regulary in strip clubs he was a major pioneer here and he should be in the dirty south awards instead of the poor judment vh1 made he moved to maimi to form coalition with luke skywalker records he had the baddest dj's in the south at the time which were dj tomp and dj man(dj came form the king edward j the j team THe FIRST dj team OUT in the south AND North region) dj drama-he is a fluke who they should give props too-if we are talking about history they should be kissing lil jons ass i cant begin to tell you how influetial this man meant to the atlanta scene for both being a underground dj and pioneer but also breaking ground providing atlanta with upnorth acts as well as southern acts as well which he went towards to latter on in his career shabazz is a true pioneer in that specific genre in the atlanta circuit and should be recognized says uzipolo-king of decatur

    • khordkutta

      dang i though shy d was from FL, I remember playin shake in like 88 to get chicks on the dance floor.

    • G.R.E.A.T. SCOTT

      Bruh.I could not agree more. PLZ let em know. And yeah. Dude is for lack of a better term exactly what you called him. We shouldnt sell out for the purpose of Out sellin'. Big Respect due to DJ Don Cannon and Jamad.

  • big har danny

    damn, that's some history there. props for doing the job

  • JaiBiz aka JaiBeasley

    Haha loving the Flux of Binkis Recs plug! He's a cool cat and mad creative on the mic! Big up to Killa and, of course, RIP to JAX!!

  • Rob Boffard

    Good to see Phil Mlyanr still doing his thing. Fresh piece.

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  • Mortal Technique

    Wasn't Drama Bahamadia's DJ too?