Watch a Sneak Peek of Ludacris’ Origins in VH1′s ‘ATL: The Untold Story of Atlanta’s Rise in the Rap Game’ [EXCLUSIVE]
Hip-hop may have been born in the North and bred between two coasts, but somewhere between the height of the East Coast vs. West Coast rap feud and the death of two hip-hop greats, the South crept into the public eye via the 1995 Source Awards when Andre 3000 to let everyone know “the South got somethin’ to say.”
Now, nearly 10 years later, if you let some of today’s biggest artists, DJs and music executives tell it, the culture thrives in the South. To honor the city that helped push rap to mainstream oblivion, Ludacris and DTP Co-founder/CEO Chaka Zulu teamed up with VH1 as executive producers to present ‘ATL: The Untold Story of Atlanta’s Rise in the Rap Game,’ a documentary that uncovers the story behind what is now one of hip-hop’s biggest hubs.
The 90-minute documentary features a slew of iconic rap figures, DJs, record store owners and politicians — past and present — including Mojo, MC Shy D, DJ Toomp, Speech, T.I. Bone Crusher, DJ Jelly, Greg Street, the current mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, and more, as they explore the evolution of hip-hop in a city that was never viewed as a music portal beginning with the post-civil rights era. Understanding that A-town’s rise in the rap game was molded by more than just the beats and flows that filled the airwaves, Chaka and Luda were conscious in including the city’s historical background, starting with the Atlanta Child Murders that took place between 1979 and 1981.
“Music is true of the culture and the socialization of people,” Chaka tells The Boombox. “[It's] the mindset, spirit and emotion of people in a space and time. That particular period of time helped define Atlanta in a major way. Even though it was dark… it also allowed Atlanta to be seen in an underdog position in a way that people might consider a negative, [but] they turned that into a positive. That is also a consistent theme within the documentary.”
From Jermaine Dupri running around backstage with Whoodini to L.A. Reid and Babyface’s unforgettable LaFace Records’ Christmas album, Atlanta’s music scene has come a long way from the days when New York radio wouldn’t be caught dead playing a Southern track. But now that there’s no denying Atlanta as a “centerpiece of hip-hop,” the DTP Co-founders hope this 90-minute yellow brick road will pave the way for more ATL-bred stories to be told.
“This piece is the tree trunk,” Chaka passionately shares. “This will create the opportunity for branches to grow out that will tell even deeper and more interesting stories about the history of Atlanta and its hip-hop scene.”
“You have to start out small, and expand,” says Ludacris. “That’s the way to do it.”
Check out another exclusive clip from ‘ATL: The Untold Story of Atlanta’s Rise in the Rap Game’ below, and catch the full 90-minute documentary on VH1 this Tues., Sept. 2 at 10PM EST.
Watch Kris Kross in ‘ATL: The Untold Story of Atlanta’s Rise in the Rap Game’