For more than 20 year, big bass, deep grooves and a particularly soulful approach to the genre have marked Atlanta’s distinctive hip hop sound and, in doing so, made Georgia’s capital city a Mecca for fans around the world. In an effort to “map out the aural history of Atlanta as captured in the music produced here,” two Georgia State University students, Adnon Rasool and Brennan Collins, embarked on an extensive project as a partnership between between GSU’s Student Innovation Fellowship program and Emory University’s Center for Digital Scholarship.
Sticking to the works of Outkast, Ludacris and Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover), Rasool and Collins analyzed the respective artists’ lyrics for mentions of Atlanta spots and then mapped the points to study and look for patterns. In February 2018, the pair published their findings in conjunction with ATL Maps – you can read about it here, and link to pins on the maps that correspond to the landmarks and note the lyrics that reference the spots. Meanwhile for fans, here’s a few spots mentioned in the study and a couple that were not.
Over the years, Greenbriar Mall has made appearances in songs by artists from Goodie Mob to Ludacris, because it was a central hangout spot for so many Southwest Atlanta kids when they were young. Greenbriar Mall is where Jermaine Dupri discovered Kris Kross in 1991. It’s where T.I. used to get kicked out of the parking lot for selling CDs out of the trunk of his car, but was welcomed back to in 2016 for a concert to announce his co-ownership stake in TIDAL. Times change, but nostalgia for Greenbriar Mall does not. 2841 Greenbriar Pkwy. SW
It’s a high-end Atlanta shopping destination that’s made its way into lyrics by Childish Gambino, Rick Ross, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, T.I., Drake and Nicki Minaj, among others. Big Boi and Andre 3000 of Outkast first met at the Ralph Lauren store at Lenox and then famously rode MARTA together back to their Southwest Atlanta neighborhood. It’s where Love and Hip Hop star Tommie Lee got in a fight at Henri Bendel earlier this year and and where Drake caused a near riot strolling around and shopping in May. 3393 Peachtree Rd. NE
Cascade Family Skating
The primary shooting location for the 2006 movie ATL, Cascade was inspired by Jellybeans, the Southwest Atlanta fixture that served as a clubhouse, meeting room and social center for Atlanta acts from the ‘80s and ‘90s including TLC and Jermaine Dupri. And while rapper T.I. may have only bounced onscreen, Cascade is still a big wheel in the hip hop community. Skaters not ready to be shown up by the kids might consider the Sunday night adults only sessions. 3335 M.L.K. Jr. Drive S.W.
Big A Car Wash
Sadly, this carwash, made famous by the 1995 Outkast “Benz or Beamer” video, is no longer open for business. Still, that doesn’t stop fans from rolling by and imagining themselves as participants in one of music’s more iconic dance parties. We do suggest avoiding selfies from the Big Boi perch atop the Big A sign. 4540 Washington Rd.
Long recognized as Atlanta hip hop’s general store, Walter’s is the first choice purveyor of clothing, sneakers and other assorted accessories to both the city’s local stars and visiting performers. Walter’s has been referenced variously in lyrics by Georgia rappers including Young Jeezy, Future and Gucci Mane. 66 Decatur Street
The SWAG Shop
Owned by hip hop artist and social activist Killer Mike, this business started as a barbershop – SWAG stands for Shave, Wash and Groom – but has really always been about the experience, about a “cool, casual, and artistic approach to self-care.” The endeavor has proved so popular and successful that there are plans for another SWAG location at Philips Arena, scheduled to open in October 2018. 365 Edgewood Avenue