THE HIP-HOP HISTORY OF
Atlanta
with Mike Will Made It
THE RICH HISTORY OF HIP-HOP IN
Atlanta
with Mike Will Made It

WELCOME TO ATLANTA

More than 20 years after OutKast’s Andre 3000 famously proclaimed that “the South got somethin’ to say” at the 1995 Source Awards, Atlanta has arguably grown to become one of the nation’s hip-hop hubs.

Throughout the 1980s and early ‘90s, Atlanta’s music scene was heavily influenced by both Miami bass music and East Coast hip-hop, with acts like Kilo Ali, MC Shy D and Raheem the Dream laying the foundation. Groundbreaking music industry events like Jack the Rapper featuring performances from Prince and helping break new acts spanning Tupac to Kris Kross and the 1996 Olympics (and the more raucous activities at the annual Freaknik) drew hundreds of thousands of fans to the city, inspiring rappers from across the country like Erick Sermon and Too $hort to relocate to Atlanta’s burgeoning music scene.

Throughout the mid-‘90s, the rise of the Organized Noize production trio and their extended Dungeon Family, which included trailblazing acts like OutKast and Goodie Mob, branded a new style of soulful hip-hop. Meanwhile, producers like Jermaine Dupri and platinum-selling R&B acts like TLC, Monica and Usher helped establish Atlanta as a powerhouse in other genres beyond rap. Popular radio personality Chris Luva Luva reinvented himself as the rapper Ludacris and hit it big, crossing over into the mainstream and eventually taking his talents from the booth (see: Hot 100 chart-toppers “Stand Up” and “Money Maker” featuring Pharrell) to the big screen as part of the Fast & Furious franchise.

The early 2000s were marked by the “crunk” era of Atlanta rap music, led by producer/artist Lil Jon and his BME label. Acts like Lil Scrappy, Trillville, the YoungBloodZ and Crime Mob benefited from their association to the animated rap star. Groups like D4L and Dem Franchize Boyz introduced “snap” music and encouraged fans to hit the dance floor, while producers like Jazze Pha introduced Ciara’s brand of Pop&B. Goodie Mob’s Cee Lo Green expanded his brand worldwide with Gnarls Barkley, and earned a Grammy as a solo act for 2011’s “F–k You.”

“Trap” rappers like T.I., Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane reminisced on their hustling days over powerful beats, inspiring a new generation to “git up, git out and git something” as OutKast and Goodie Mob once encouraged. Southern rap music, led by these ATLiens, reigned atop music charts for more than a decade. T.I., Ludacris, Lil Jon, Usher, OutKast, Killer Mike, Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox were among many who brought Grammys home to Atlanta throughout the 2000s.

Today, radio station playlists are dominated by Future, a second-generation Dungeon Family affiliate. Tity Boi of Playaz Circle, best known for their massive “Duffle Bag Boy” hit with Lil Wayne, reinvented himself as 2 Chainz, going on to nab the chart-topping album Based on a T.R.U. Story in 2012. Atlanta rap group Migos coined the term “New Atlanta” on their 2014 record with fellow ATL natives Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan, representing the new wave of Atlanta’s homegrown talent. Upstarts like 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert, TKnCash, Lil Yachty, Johnny Cinco, Jose Guapo and Raury are all on the come up.

Boasting the busiest airport in the world, Atlanta is literally and figuratively at the center of the music industry, attracting talent and drawing influences from all over the country. As long as the city continues to reinvent itself as it has for decades past, ATL is setting itself up to remain the cutting edge of the hip-hop music scene it’s already posited itself to be.



Video
Mike Will's Tour of Atlanta

Follow along as Mike Will goes back to Atlanta and treats the city to the concert of a lifetime.

'Look Alive' Live

Watch the crowd go wild for Mike Will and friends at his 1800 Back to the Block show.

Historic Hip-Hop Locales
Timeline
10
G.O.A.T. Chart
Atlanta's Top 10 Rappers of All Time
in Atlanta

Since the early ’90s, the Altanta scene has left its mark on the Billboard charts, giving us some of hip-hop’s most memorable songs and iconic artists. Check out the region’s top 5 artists, based on their performance on Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs chart*.

1
T.I.
Top Song: “What You Know” (2006)
The self-proclaimed “King of the South” may have a loaded vocabulary, but his knack for rap earned him multiple chart-topping records on the Hot Rap Songs chart. His 2006 hit “What You Know” reigned for six weeks at number one followed by back-to-back chart-toppers in 2008 with “Whatever You Like” and the Rihanna-assisted “Live Your Life,” each clinging to the top spot for 10 weeks. His 2009 collaboration with Justin Timberlake “Dead and Gone” notched a smooth eight weeks at the chart’s apex.
2
Ludacris
Top Song: "Stand Up" (2003)
Disc jockey-turned-MC Ludacris disturbed the peace during the 2000s with a slew of chart-topping hits. The second single off his fourth studio effort Chicken-N-Beer “Stand Up” featuring Shawnna rocked the peak position for eight weeks in 2003. The strip club-ready “Money Maker” cashed out at the top slot for seven weeks in 2006. Luda slowed down the tempo with the emotional Mary J. Blige-assisted number “Runaway Love” in 2007, holding court at number one for five weeks.
3
OutKast
Top Song: "Player's Ball" (1994)
Merging both the gritty and soulful, the iconic rap duo -- comprised of Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and Andre “Andre 3000” Benjamin -- hit number one on the rap chart for six weeks in 1994 with their debut single, “Player’s Ball.” Their next chart-topping single arrived with 1996’s “Elevators (Me And You),” which shot to the top for four weeks. In 2001, “Miss Jackson” also grabbed a seat at the chart summit for three weeks while the groovy track “The Way You Move,” co-starring Sleepy Brown, danced at the peak in 2003 for five weeks.
4
Lil Jon
Top Song: "Get Low" feat. Ying Yang Twins (2003)
Before turning down for what, Lil Jon got lifted with his 2003 collaboration with the East Side Boyz and Ying Yang Twinz called “Get Low,” which shook at number one for three weeks. The loud-mouthed MC then toasted his pimp chalice to another chart-topper with the YoungBloodZ-led “Damn!” that same year. Lil Jon then linked with Usher and Ludacris for the infectious slow jam “Lovers & Friends,” which two-stepped at the top of the rap chart for eight weeks.
5
Jeezy
Top Song: " “Soul Survivor” feat. Akon (2005)
Jeezy’s incessant thug motivation earned him impressive bouts on the chart with 2005’s Akon collaboration “Soul Survivor,” which marched at the top of the rap chart for six weeks. In 2008, his Kanye West-assisted banger “Put On” also hit the peak. Four years later, his collaboration with R&B singer Ne-Yo “Leave You Alone” tapped out at number two.
6
Kris Kross
Top Song: "Jump" (1992)
Discovered in an Atlanta mall by then-19-year-old producer Jermaine Dupri, the teen MCs Chris “Daddy Mack” Smith and Chris “Mack Daddy” Kelly became pop sensations thanks to the Jackson 5-sampling hit “Jump,” which topped the chart for five weeks in 1992. That year, their follow-up hit “Warm It Up” became certified gold and heated up the number one spot on the Rap Songs chart for three weeks. “Alright,” their third single to hit gold, also climbed to the chart zenith in 1993, followed by 1996’s “Tonite’s Tha Night,” which remained in the top spot for five weeks.
7
Ying Yang Twins
Top Song: "Whistle While You Twurk" (2000)
The Atlanta partystarters (D-Roc and Kaine) infused the crunk into a Disney classic with 2000’s “Whistle While You Twurk,” the 2000 crossover hit that twerked at No. 1 for weeks. Their assist on the Lil Jon and East Side Boyz joint “Get Low” earned them another chart-topper while their second collaboration with the aforementioned, “Salt Shaker,” seasoned the top of the rap chart in 2004. Their lowkey smash “Wait (The Whisper Song)” also became a No. 1 hit the following year.
8
2 Chainz
Top Song: "No Lie" feat. Drake (2012)
Formerly known as Tity Boi of Playaz Circle, the so-called “Duffle Bag Boy” later rebranded as 2 Chainz. In 2012, he notched two chart-toppers as both a feature on the G.O.O.D. Music posse cut “Mercy” co-starring Kanye West, Big Sean and Pusha T, as well as a lead artist with the Drake-assisted and Mike WiLL Made It-produced “No Lie.” His Fast & Furious collaboration with Wiz Khalifa “We Own It” peaked at No. 3 in 2013.
9
B.o.B.
Top Song: “Nothin’ On You” feat. Bruno Mars (2010)
The Decatur rep was a mainstream success with his 2010 love note “Nothin’ On You” featuring fellow Atlantic Records signee Bruno Mars, which serenaded the ladies from the top of the rap charts for seven weeks. That same year, Bobby Ray then linked with Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams for “Airplanes,” which soared to number two. B.o.B. experienced more success in the Top 10 with 2014’s “Headband” featuring 2 Chainz, plus the Priscilla collaboration “John Doe.”
10
10. Waka Flocka Flame
Top Song: “O Let’s Do It” feat. Cap (2010)
Launching his rap career in Atlanta, the Queens-born Waka Flocka Flame became a house party playlist staple, particularly with 2010’s Roscoe Dash and Wale collaboration “No Hands,” which turned up at the number one spot for 10 weeks. His 2009 hit “O Let’s Do It” peaked at number seven, while “Grove St. Party” co-starring Kebo Gotti partied at number 10 in 2011.
*This ranking is based on actual performance on Billboard's weekly Hot Rap Songs chart, from the chart’s inception in the March 11, 1989, issue through the chart dated March 26, 2016. Rankings are based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 having the greatest value and weeks at lower positions proportionately less. Due to various changes in chart rules, chart length and methodology through the years, songs had varying reigns at No. 1 and on the chart. To ensure equitable representation of the biggest hits from all years, certain time frames were weighted to account for the difference in turnover rates from those periods.
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