#SceneSearch: Atlanta’s Underground Music Scene

#SceneSearch is our online music diary that details our love for the underground music scene in cities across the globe and those who curate it. Here, we’ll explore your favorite cities and the music that makes us crave a visit.  While music remains subjective, the creativity, endeavors, and peculiarity put into each scene can’t go unnoticed. Here’s what we love about this week’s city:

In Atlanta, you could be sitting by the next big thing in music on the train and have no idea. Atlanta is the city where the underground is our mainstream; before our hometown heroes become household names, they’re simply just the homie, “ole dude/ole girl,” or somebody that’s probably sold you weed before. You may run into these people at a party, a performance, or even in between classes, and in a matter of the next few months, the rest of the world has started catching on.

Part of what helps to spark these careers is the variety of venues in Atlanta that allow musicians to perform. From the bars on Edgewood including Mother Bar and Kitchen, Music Room to Little 5 points to strip clubs and lounges spanning from the west to east sides, there is no shortage of platforms for up and coming artists to reach some new ears and gain some new fans.

Often when people hear “Atlanta,” their minds automatically go to the soul thumping 808s and addictive cadences of trap music. While hip hop and rap, specifically the invention and evolution of trap music, are essential to the historic fabric of Atlanta’s contemporary music culture, there are artists in the city of all genres that are currently making noise and shifting southern culture as we know it.

Every single Atlanta punk/rock show I’ve stumbled into was an unintentional yet amazing experience. Punk shows in Atlanta are the definition of underground, you probably only found out about it because a friend of a friend of a friend is in the band, or the flyer had been thrice reposted on a mutual’s Instagram story and you were in desperate need of a move for the night. It’s always a good time stumbling into a backyard set by Trashcan or seeing your first Upchuck performance at Drunken Unicorn. You probably get water (or liquor? hopefully?) sprayed on you, your shoes completely stomped on, and find yourself with your arms raised and supporting the bodyweight of the crowd surfing lead singer. It reminds you that hey, Atlanta isn’t just rap music, it’s rap, rock, punk, alternative, r&b, jazz, and neo-soul, and the fusion genres that occur in between all at the same time.

In addition to Atlanta’s budding rock scene is a universe of young R&B/neo-soul musicians that are just as laid back and relaxed as the melodies they perform. The lounges and restaurants are where these performers shine most; lowkey cocktail spots with cozy seating, bold drinks, and of course, energy. Flwr Chyld and Grimm Lynn are two indie R&B/neo-soul artists who mix live instrumentation, rhythmic production, and rich vocals that would make any 20-something and even their parents have to nod their head. Kiya Lacey and Jaixx  fuse rhythmic pop sounds into their own futuristic and ethereal take on R&B. Of course, it wouldn’t be Atlanta’s underground without a trap-soul reference through Destiny Briona and Nai Brixx, which is now growing through Summer Walker and 6lack.

Similar to LA, where you can find 10 aspiring actor-slash-models on any given block, the same applies to Atlanta and up and coming rappers. There. Are. Plenty. However, that does not mean that there aren’t also some really good independent rappers here, too. From New York-born, Atlanta-raised rapper ProteJay, to hard-hitting songstress MuddyMya, to underground legend KEY!, Atlanta has no shortage of flows and styles.

While you may catch a local rapper performing anywhere from a hookah lounge to a warehouse-turned-event-venue, the one place you can hear a rapper’s song and know in your soul they’re up next is the strip club. Strip clubs play a major role in determining who’s considered “blue chip” in rap; who is always going to sell and always going to make a hit. The club even continues to determine hits well into an artist’s career. Migos, 21 Savage, Young Thug and Lil Baby all still have to make sure they make music that keeps the girls dancing. Ladies rap too and Queendom has been putting Atlanta’s women on the map along with Yung Baby Tate and Quanna MC.

 

If I had to summarize Atlanta’s music scene, I’d call it “the city that feeds itself” due to our nature of supporting each other, reposting each other’s music and supporting at shows. Overall, Atlanta gives Atlanta a chance before the rest of the world decides that it’s cool to do so, allowing for this beautiful community of creative exchange and support to exist and thrive, even when the spotlight isn’t on us.

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