Though it's the birthplace of Young Thug, Gucci Mane, and OutKast, it seems like Atlanta is perpetually fighting to earn respect for its contributions to hip-hop. From “Player’s Ball” to “Bad and Boujee,” Atlanta hip-hop has long stood apart—musically and geographically—from contemporaries in New York and California, taking advantage of its relative isolation to come up with innovative new sounds.
Admittedly, not everything that comes out of Atlanta is legendary. The same city that gave us André 3000 and Childish Gambino also gave us Bubba Sparxxx and CyHi the Prynce (where you at, CyHi?). Atlanta has gone through different waves of hip-hop, beginning in earnest with the Organized Noize/Dirty South era of the ’90s. But right now might be the city’s most exciting time yet, thanks to the freshman crew of eccentrics: Migos, Rich Homie Quan, Thugger, and 21 Savage.
Despite representing the same area code, 21 Savage sounds like no other Atlanta rapper, past or present. His flow (if it can even be called that) is slow, murky, and vaguely sinister. After putting out a couple of decent but unremarkable mixtapes, 21 teamed up with go-to producer and fellow Atlantan Metro Boomin, and last year the duo released an EP, Savage Mode. This collab proved to be the perfect mix, as Metro’s dark and foreboding production provides the perfect backdrop for 21’s cough-syrupy vocals. With his icy stare and anti-club demeanor, 21 Savage may be an unlikely face of the new class of Atlanta hip-hop, but he goes to show that you can never know what to expect from the ATL.