Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why Atlanta is SICK-- Reason #2: We've got spirit, yes we do/ We've got spirit, how 'bout you?

Ok, here it is... the second of five (probably fairly marginal) reasons that A-Town is SICK. This particular installment in the five-parter deals with a phenomenon that, while by no means unique to ATL, is particularly pronounced in that city: pride in place.

Put another way, people that live here actually give a shit about the fact that they live here. A great piece of evidence supporting that proposition is displayed on the left-- what you see on that wall is a sticker, and you can find the same sticker plastered on vertical surfaces ALL OVER the city. Atlantans don't just live in Atlanta, they live Atlanta.

It is perhaps because culture in Atlanta is so influenced by hip-hop music that when a rapper admonishes his listener to "rep your city," the city of Atlanta responds enthusiastically. Even putting aside the influence that hip-hop has on Atlantans, it is obvious that ATLiens will, indeed, rep their city if given half a chance.

But, there is nothing wrong with that. (Well, aside from the collateral effect of inspiring the city-repping populous to create a plethora of bullshit nicknames for this city.) It is precisely this kind of unity that is a driving force behind the extraordinary commercial success of Atlanta's hip-hop renaissance; through the shared practice of boisterously expressing their city pride, the hip-hoppers have, effectively, created a strong, viable Atlanta brand. And I'll be goddamned if that brand doesn't sell some records. Real talk, would D4L have moved many units if they were based in Poughkeepsie? Would an Omaha-born and bred Soulja Boy have been signed to a major record deal? The answer to both of these questions is, of course, no. Soulja Boy would still be cranking that in a cattle stockyard and D4L would, undoubtedly, be doing little more than eating some Laffy Taffy.

Here's the thing though: those artists were astute enough to cash in on the cachet imbued in the Atlanta brand.

And you know what? If you can take some overbearing kick drums, some finger snapping and some (and I'm about to start fearing for my life, but here goes:) relatively uninspired lyrics in conjunction with the brand established by denizens of Atlanta (at little or no cost to the artist!), you're not just a good businessman, but a SICK one.