Updated: Oct 26, 2020
Atlanta culture is one of the most prominent cultures of modern hip-hop and has been a staple point of style, fashion, and language. Underground Atlanta has been beaming with talent and creativity. Within the last five years, I have witnessed the open appreciation for the underdogs of a culture that we praise. Atlanta has been viewed by other cultures to be one of the most collaborative and supportive cities within music because of how many opportunities for small businesses and artists are developing there. Still, there is a bit of conflict within the city that many people don’t realize until they witness it.
There have been mentions of a “cult” like culture. To be more specific, the Underground Atlanta scene is known to move in “cliques,” where only a specific group of artists reap benefits of progression and exposure. If an artist is not apart of said cliques, they are often left behind. Could these accusations be rooted in jealousy? Possibly, but it started to raise concern as I continued to receive reports about it.
I want to discuss this issue to see if we can come up with a solution. You could argue that artists should “work harder,” but some artists have worked harder than their peers, who seemingly achieve more success in a shorter time span. Plus, we all know that most of the time, it’s not about what you know, but more about whom you know. We can also argue that it’s about what value you bring that differs from other artists in your area. Being a “good rapper” just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Let’s take this tweet into account.
The operation of Atlanta “cliques” hinders the exposure of incredibly talented artists. If you are an artist or listener and you don’t see or this is an issue, you may be on the outside looking in. The issue with cliques is that many Atlanta artists grew up together within the same area. Once an artist or a friend group gains a bit of notoriety, they inadvertently establish a fabricated media form stating that “we” are Atlanta and Atlanta only, leaving those who are not well known and also genuine in their work silenced and not catered to because they lack an “it” factor.
This issue begins to reflect through many Atlanta media platforms since they tend to report about artists who are on the borderline of future stardom, and not support those who don’t shine as bright because it earns them exposure. Although I understand the notion of them playing with the cards they have been dealt with, this type of activity hinders the growth of other artists needing a platform and holds back the authenticity of the culture.
Some artists won’t even work with other artists that aren’t associated with a particular clique, connection, or amount of following. There is a “leeching” factor that causes animosity between artists.
Many artists work on a “get it by any means necessary” approach. Although the idea reigns in terms of success, the behaviors in means to obtain success are fragile and fraudulent. Yet, no one seems to notice or openly discuss it because it happens within the shadows.
There are thousands of artists awaiting discovery who create content daily. It is challenging to search through to find solidified talent. Still, the way the media reflects it, you would think that only five to ten artists exist in Atlanta (regarding underground culture, not the prominent artists we all know). Much talent is swept under the rug because they do not stick out amongst the cloud of popularity.
Some artists begin to think that they aren’t good enough because they don’t have the media recognition, which is entirely false and, in some cases, irrelevant. Catering and building towards your audience is vital as long as your craft is quality, authentic, and honest.
People also develop clouded thinking. “You must not be that relevant if you are not apart of a certain clique or raised from a certain area.” In reality, that makes zero sense. Many artists in the limelight of success aren’t born in Atlanta but are from the outskirts.
If you don’t believe that Atlanta divides into subgroups & cultures, you are on the outside. Simply put, you may not belong in a clique— take that as a good thing. Just know that as an independent artist, you have to carve your path through the masses. It’s challenging, but the reward is fulfilling.
Business is business, and there isn’t much we can do about how the media conducts said business, but there needs to be a level of respect. Respect each artist as an individual and don’t group them as being apart of a clique, unless they have established themselves as such. Allow these artists to shine without being recognized as another artist’s “protege” or “friend.”
When it comes to communication with new artists, have good character & intentions. Work with these artists because you want to work with them, not for what they can provide. Just because they receive 150K listens on Soundcloud does not mean the same for you, especially when the listeners are not familiar with who you are. Move with honesty and professionalism.
Lastly, be careful with whom you associate yourself. Be mindful of your surroundings. If the energy feels off, you have the right to either address the situation or separate yourself. You don’t have to wait for a chaotic outbreak to know if something is not within your character.
I wanted to take the time to address a situation that everyone speaks about, yet it doesn’t get addressed. I did not mention any names out of respect. I’m sure many of you have communicated about this issue amongst yourselves. This article is to bring awareness and spark change, and not to diminish or discriminate against anyone. If you feel directed, you can contact me.
Thank you for your time. Continue to create greatness & succeed in many of your endeavors.