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WELCOME TO ATLANTA

Quality Control founders Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas set up shop in Atlanta in 2013. The innovative execs ultimately launched the careers of Lil Baby, Migos, Lil Yachty, City Girls and more and achieved, over the last decade, impressive peaks of commercial success that never diminished their enormous creative and cultural authenticity. Indeed, a 2017 New York Times headline read, “Atlanta Rap Keeps Evolving. Quality Control Is Taking It Global.” They also added successful forays into sports, branding and more to their label and management ventures. On the occasion of the company’s 10th anniversary, the Georgia House of Representatives declared 3/15/23 “QC Day.”

It was an extraordinary moment not only for the company—which “took it global” in an entirely new way when it was acquired by South Korean entertainment conglomerate HYBE that same year in a deal valued at around $300 million—but also for Atlanta, which over the past few decades has become a true creative hub for rap and R&B.

“I feel like Atlanta has the biggest influence on the music, especially the run in hip-hop,” P noted in a 2018 HITS interview. A quick review of some current artists who came up in the city underscores how much it has shaped hip-hop’s present landscape: Future, 21 Savage, Gucci Mane, Latto, Jeezy, Gunna, 2 Chainz, Playboi Carti and Childish Gambino (whose alter ego, Donald Glover, brainstormed the hit TV series Atlanta), among others, have built on the success of artists like Ludacris, Outkast and Goodie Mob to make the ATL as important to the world of bars and beats as any place in the world.

But before all of that came some of the musical pioneers chronicled in this issue. William Bell’s Peachtree Records gave Atlanta an R&B profile in the ’60s, and its underappreciated catalog was rejuvenated by sampling in the hip-hop era. Gladys Knight, one of the greatest soul singers who ever lived, is best known for the superhit “Midnight Train to Georgia,” but she has yet to truly receive her flowers, given the depth and breadth of her contribution. L.A. Reid and Babyface came to Atlanta when its musical profile, in national terms, was minuscule, and built a mighty empire of R&B and more, cultivating such genius producers as Dallas Austin and Jermaine Dupri along the way. Chaka Zulu nurtured Ludacris’ career from the outset. Raheem the Dream brought the boom. The Dungeon Family produced an array of hip-hop stars (including the aforementioned Outkast and Goodie Mob) out of a humble Atlanta studio after years of swimming against the tide (And RIP, Organized Noize mastermind Rico Wade). And ATL native Cody ChesnuTT, though he experienced one blindingly bright moment in the mainstream, is one of the present millennium’s great stories of what might have been.

It would be impossible to tell the whole musical backstory of the city in one issue, but it’s our hope that we’ve at least provided an inkling of Atlanta’s vast, vibrant, eclectic soul.

HITS LIST:
HOME RUN DERBY
Going yard (7/11a)
SONG REVENUE:
SCHLEMIEL, SHABOOZEY
Th epitome of new country (7/11a)
GRAMMY PRE-CHEW:
THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIG 4
On your Marks, get set, go. (7/8a)
TOWARD A FRUITFUL GRAMMY SEASON
Our editurr in chief has something on his mined. (7/10a)
SABRINA TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS WITH TOUR MERCH?
Her table's stacked. (7/10a)
THE GRAMMY SHORT LIST
Who's already a lock?
COUNTRY'S NEWEST DISRUPTOR
Three chords and some truth you may not be ready for.
AI IS ALREADY EATING YOUR LUNCH
The kids can tell the difference... for now.
INDIE DISTRIBUTION'S RISE TO GLORY
The discovery engine is revving higher.
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