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The Atlanta hip hop scene is Returning to Prominence

By Hardcore Critic
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

In the mid-1990s, following the success of the Los Angeles hip hop scene, hip hop artists from various areas began enjoying mainstream success. Arrested Development, of Tennessee, enjoyed a brief run at the top of the charts, as did Master P in New Orleans, along with Scarface, from Houston.

One of the most-notable acts to emerge during this time was Outkast, the Atlanta duo, which was a part of the Organized Noize movement. The group consisted of Andre 3000 and Big Boi, and began posting a number of hits. While Outkast posted several hit singles, the Atlanta hip hop scene did not truly take off until the new milennium.

Famed producer, Jermaine Dupri, had a string of success through the mid-1990s, also, but had more success in the late 1990s. Jermaine Dupri worked with several of the most-prominent rappers in the game, becoming the Puff Daddy of the South, as he appeared in music videos and ad-libbed over the records. Living up to the Puff Daddy comparisons, Jermaine Dupri soon began releasing his own albums, with his first single being the Jay-Z-assisted, “Money Ain’t a Thang,” released in 1998.

Ludacris, a rising rapper in the Atlanta area, gained the attention of Def Jam in 1999 and was signed in 2000. Representing Atlanta, Ludacris was the first artist signed to Def Jam South and he made a major splash in the game. The summer of 2000 was dominated by Ludacris’ debut single, “Southern Hospitality” and his album, Back For the First Time, quickly earned platinum status. Following Ludacris’ takeover of the hip hop scene, the entire Atlanta scene rose to prominence.

Following Ludacris was Lil Jon & Tha Eastside Boyz, The Ying Yang Twins, T.I., and many others. By 2005, Ludacris established himself as the most-successful solo rapper from Atlanta. There were some who considered Ludacris as the Jay-Z of Atlanta, something T.I. took offense to. At first, Ludacris and T.I. appeared to have a cordial relationship, with T.I. appearing in the “Welcome to Atlanta” music video. The taping of the video took place a year before the release of T.I.’s I’m Serious debut.

While T.I. released I’m Serious in 2001, he did not meet much success, leaving his label and returning to the mixtape scene. Many heard T.I. for the first time in 2003, when he released his Atlantic Records debut, Trap Muzik. During this period of time, T.I. and Ludacris began exchanging disses, with things coming to a head in 2004. Both rappers appeared on the same song, exchanging disses and later ending their feud. Following this, Ludacris focused more on his business ventures, while T.I. assumed his role in the rap game.

Young Jeezy, Gucci Mane, and artists signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle label soon began providing hits, keeping Atlanta relevant. However, the Atlanta hip hop scene soon saw its reign slip. DJ Khaled, a popular DJ in Miami, found a way to unite several Southern rappers. DJ Khaled’s primary focus was the Miami hip hop scene. Soon, Miami took over the hip hop scene, as Lil Jon seemingly disappeared, along with Jermaine Dupri, Outkast had label issues, but Big Boi managed to release his solo debut.

For most of 2011, the Atlanta hip hop scene did not have much going, outside of Waka Flocka Flame. Young Jeezy’s long-awaited TM103 album was seemingly shelved, T.I. was in prison for the second time in two years, and Andre 3000 was limited to guest verses. However, there were a few new artists to emerge on the mixtape scene, who will play a big role in Atlanta’s resurgence. Toward the end of 2011, Young Jeezy finally released his album and T.I. hit the ground running.

Now, there are several newer artists in Atlanta who will fill the shoes of Ludacris, Jermaine Dupri, T.I., and Outkast in 2012 and beyond.

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