ATLANTA – The independent hip hop scene continues to grow as local artists are building a name for themselves in venues located in the Edgewood neighbor in Atlanta.
Atlanta is widely regarded as the mecca of southern hip hop and is no stranger to the hip hop industry producing legendary artists such as Outkast and Goodie Mob as well as modern icons like Future. Artists from around the world find themselves flocking to the city in hopes of pursuing the dream of a successful rapper.
“The Atlanta hip hop scene is booming in the music industry right now,” said Jay Devon, a local Atlanta rapper that frequents the area. “Everybody is looking for something in Atlanta. Everything sounds like something from Atlanta.”
With such a crowded market, it can be next to impossible to branch out and build a name for yourself in the beginning stages. However, areas like Edgewood are at the forefront of the independent hip hop scene providing a space for the young and undiscovered to share their music with other like-minded individuals.
Local artists like Devon, Snook Nazty and Beres Ford find themselves surviving and staying relevant in a flood hip hop market by maintaining a presence at venues such as Erosol aka Department Store and Union East Atlanta Village. Erosol offers the Level Up ATL Open Mic night every Tuesday allowing musicians of all genres to showcase their talents, while The Union hosts open mics on Wednesday nights alongside other events throughout the week.
“When I first started going to Department Store it was so diverse,” Devon said. “Like you never knew what you were going to hear. You never knew what you were going to see. You could be listening to the most turned song ever about someone shooting somebody on MLK, and then you’ll hear a woman recite a poem about giving head right after, and then hear someone singing. It was just so much love being thrown out, and it helps with the scene and the culture.”
Though both venues are small, they each seem to hold their own almost working together to help build local artists in one way or another. Both venues specialize in hip hop, while also welcome other genres such as spoken word, metal and edm offering a diverse audience for artist to reach.
“The open-minded spirit of everyone here and that you can get a true sample for your music,” said Ford.
General Manager of Union EAV and Vice President of Dirty Boy Social Club King Fresh shared his thoughts on the independent hip hop scene in Atlanta in correlation to the Union. Fresh maintained that his willingness to work with artists and consistency is what sets the Union apart.
“If you’re takin it serious, I take you serious,” Fresh said. “I’m open to discuss what we need to do to help you achieve your goal”
Often times, the indie circuit is a small circle that does not welcome outsiders. However, Union EAV and Erosol find themselves welcoming those not on the indie scene, even artists that have found mainstream success.
“A lot of celebrities started to see that,” Devon said. “You’ll see [Young] Jeezy on a random Monday at the playlist Party. You’ll run into 2 Chainz. He’s just randomly standing there. You just never know.”
These venues and others in the area provide something more than just a place to perform. These intimate settings benefit artists by allowing them to connect with an audience as well as networking with other artists.
“It gave me a platform to see what people like as far as my music because I never really knew,” Devon said. “I just did what I felt. These spots have a lot of positivity. We come in more positive and it brings positive people to us, and I appreciate that. A lot of things on the indie scene are really dope, and place like Erosol, Union EAV and Apache really open their arms and their doors to artists that otherwise would not get another look right now and there is not a lot of that on the indie scene”
Adding to this notion, Fresh said, “I’m so passionate about giving everyone equal opportunity. I always stand by being fair and professional.”
With such diversity in both artists and audience members alike, there seems to a shift in the taste of music on the indie scene. Young no longer have to be a drug kingpin in your raps to make it in Atlanta, and one could argue that venues in Edgewood like Erosol and Union EAV are at the helm.
“The culture has shifted to people enjoying all kinds of good music,” Devon said. “Everything is appreciated so everything comes out.”
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