Nostalgia is inescapable, as you can tell from the look-backs and remember-whens in this year's music issue. It is easy to get caught up in the past — rose-colored glasses, the grass is always greener and all that. But it's important to remember that we are living in the present, and even though the here and now in Atlanta can be a little confusing, it's still full of potency.
Thanks to the subversive reach of the blogosphere, the mainstream has begun welcoming those folks it previously shunned, and in Atlanta, we've seen it first hand. Gone (for the most part) are the Sevendusts of yesteryear, who have been replaced by now-established acts such as Mastodon, Deerhunter and Black Lips, followed by the likes of Gentleman Jesse, Carnivores, and Balkans. And yet there are dozens of newer bands springing up to make their presence known. The Pinx, Barreracudas, the N.E.C., Abby Go Go, the Back Pockets and more are seamlessly working their way onto bills every night, and even taking their acts on the road.
Amid all of these names it seems that one thing is certain, the outsiders have moved in. All this activity has been an incubator, giving the searing and melodic spunk assaults of the Coathangers and Hawks a place to gestate, while also giving rise to more experimental acts, such as All the Saints, Lyonnais, and Nomen Novum.
At the heart of it all, Atlanta's reputation as a party town persists. Electro art-rock crew Judi Chicago has seen its star rise on the dance floor, as has the psych-funk groove ensemble Noot d' Noot. And let's not forget Janelle Monáe, who defies categorization while remaining resolutely funky. The Dolldaze and Brittany Bosco are also making a lovely mess of things with their respective takes on soul/rock fusion.
Since the Dungeon Family first hit us with its doggedly Southern take on the funk, and Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri introduced the world to the city where the players play, Atlanta has been rightfully known as a hip-hop mecca.
As always, there's a divide between such radio-friendly acts as Gucci Mane and T.I., and staunch emerging acts such as Hollyweerd, Yelawolf, and B.o.B (despite the latter being signed to T.I.'s Grand Hustle label). But the lines have become blurred over the last few years. Whether talking about Pill's wordy pandemonium, Cyhi da Prince's everyman anthems or Grip Plyaz' anti-hipsterisms, it's clear that a newfound independent spirit has invaded Atlanta's mainstream.
New Atlanta mixtape links pop up online nearly every week. Blink and you'll miss Donnis' new party jams, Aleon Craft's outer space funk, Clan Destined's conscious cool-out, or anything helmed by SMKA productions. Check out others such as Stanza, the omnipotent Sean Falyon (he's everywhere), Decatur's own Tom P, Mach 5 or Cali native Jay West for a taste of what young Atlanta has to offer.
And with projects such as Sol Messiah's She the Hard Way due to drop soon — featuring Sa-Roc, Stahhr, Rita J, Boog Brown and Khalilah Ali — Atlanta's lady MC's are easily the cream of the crop.
Through it all change remains the only constant. As the outsiders take over, a future generation prepares to keep Atlanta strange, and there's no better sign that music is alive and well.