Why Atlanta is the Hip Hop Capital of the USA
Los Angeles and New York City are getting a run for their money when it comes to hip hop talent that comes out of Atlanta and the clubs that showcase it.
Atlanta has been aptly dubbed both the “hip hop center of gravity” by The New York Times and “the new cultural capital of America” by The Daily Beast, and has been holding titles like these since the 90’s. Many of the U.S.’s top hip hop and rap artists came from Atlanta: T.I., Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Young Thug, Kelly Rowland, Childish Gambino, Soulja Boy, Future, 2 Chainz, Migos, André 3000 all call Atlanta their hometown.
The History of Hip Hop
How exactly did Atlanta become one of the top the hip hop cities in the USA? A lot of hard work and a strong community. The music world in the U.S., regardless of genre, has always been split between New York City and Los Angeles. But in the 90s, artists like Usher, TLC, and OutKast rose to fame in Atlanta, showing the country that good music could be created somewhere other than the two established music hubs. But this push for musical power in Atlanta wasn’t immediately met with a warm embrace. OutKast’s 1995 win for the Best New Rap Group at the Source Awards left many of its core fans (of New York) unhappy that outsiders were in the limelight. It was this moment that made it clear that a new time was dawning on the world of hip hop.
From there, music artists in Atlanta continued to make music that would top charts. Not only this, but an entirely new style of rap and hip hop came out of Atlanta, a style that has a specific cadence and flow that is totally unique to the city. Atlanta musicians and producers created a style and community, that was all their own which came to be an undeniable force in hip hop.
A hip hop artists performs in Atlanta
Hip Hop Today
Today, Atlanta is home to over 300 recording studios, 60 music venues, and 30 festivals that showcase long beloved, currently popular, and swiftly rising talent. Atlanta rappers continue to top charts, and the recognition of just how special the city is only grows larger. It’s the community that put Atlanta on the map not only as a major hip hop hub, but as one of the best places to find new music talent in the U.S. But where, exactly, can one experience the sound of Atlanta hip hop for themselves? Here are three spots to check out:
The scene inside one of Atlanta's hip hop venues
When in doubt, head to 529. Located in Atlanta’s East Village, this snug bar and venue showcases musicians six nights a week and has an advance cover of $10, making it one of the coziest and most affordable spots in the city to see a live show most nights of the week.
On a Friday or Saturday night in Atlanta, there’s no better place to be than El Bar. Located in the basement of a Mexican restaurant, this intimate spot is a guaranteed good time if you like good music, good vibes, and good drinks. But be warned: This place gets packed!
A3C is a hip hop music festival and conference, but if you happen to be in Atlanta in October, you shouldn’t miss it. Even if you won’t be there, A3C is worth planning a trip just to see the lineup. Past headlining musicians include Rick Ross, 21 Savage, 2 Chainz, and Nas.