In 1986, house music crept like kudzu from the Midwest down to the deep south, trailing DJ Ron Pullman’s storied migration from Austin to Atlanta. “Atlanta’s godfather of house” became known as one of the few DJs in the city spinning strictly house sets. The sound became a sort of special sauce for disc jockeys citywide, who were playing disco at the time.
Pullman was later joined in Atlanta by genre champions Tedd Patterson, Kai Alce, DJ Kemit, Jeff Myers, and Tommie Sunshine, who were drawn to the burgeoning southern hub of house from evergreen dance music communities like Chicago and New York. By the mid-90s, the Atlanta rave scene had exploded in clubs and warehouses from Buckhead to West End.
But with the new millennium came tides of change, as new regulations shuttered 24-hour venues and cracked down on the underground. Tensions between residential districts and the clubs they housed reached a breaking point when Baltimore Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis was charged with the murder of two men outside Buckhead’s Cobalt Lounge on Super Bowl Sunday in 2000. As the dance scene was regrouping, hip-hop and trap grew in popularity in Atlanta and beyond, led by Southside and Lex Luger’s 808 Mafia.