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Atlanta is the center of hip-hop’s spellbinding universe. While New York City and Los Angeles led the way in introducing rap to the masses, Atlanta reinvigorated the genre. Few cities have dominated the landscape as thoroughly as Atlanta, which has held down the title of hip-hop capital for close to 30 years.

Since André 3000′s 1995 manifesto, “The South got something to say,” the South – by way of Atlanta – has been at the forefront of the genre’s innovation and creativity.

From Mojo to Lil Baby, Atlanta’s mix of mainstream success and deep underground acts – winding down Campbellton Road through a stew of soul food, homecoming parties, Freaknik and the Dungeon – has created a unique sound and style that is both familiar and distinct.

To pay tribute to Atlanta’s impact on hip-hop, the team behind Unapologetically ATL has curated a list of the 50 greatest rappers from the city, from the early pioneers who toiled their craft at talent shows and skate parties, to the new school, who sell out arenas and make million-dollar music videos.

This unranked list includes solo rappers and rap groups who have shown, and are still proving, that Atlanta is a global epicenter for hip-hop. (Warning: some of the music and videos linked in this article contain explicit lyrics.)

But a few rules:

To be considered for this list, artists had to be born and/or raised in Atlanta and its surrounding cities and represent it in their music and/or claim it as their hometown.

So you won’t see artists like Bow Wow, Rick Ross, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes or Da Brat because while they rose to mainstream prominence in Atlanta and later moved here, they’ve touted other cities as their home.

Artists in popular rap groups who’ve established dominant solo careers for decades are listed separately.

As André 3000 so eloquently reminded us, the South, and Atlanta, still have a lot to say.

The 1980s: The forefathers, handle it


Mojo was the first. Just ask him. In 1982, just as Atlanta was beginning to heal from the Atlanta Child Murders, Mojo arrived with “Battmann: Let Mojo Handle It.” It was simple. Mojo, a product of Atlanta’s Westside, raps over a live funky disco track. Playing the role of a superhero, the song was mostly chanted with call and response. Midway through Mojo plainly asks, “Do you like it?” The answer, in Atlanta, was a resounding yes. Mojo became the first rapper to get extensive airplay on local radio still dominated by soul, R&B and disco. By the time Atlanta rap became mainstream a few years later, Mojo was out of the game. But he still performs, is still having fun, and is still cited by many of today’s Atlanta rappers as an early influence. — Ernie Suggs

MC Shy D

MC Shy D was the missing link. Born in the Bronx, where a young Peter Jones bore witness to the birth of rap and hip-hop, he moved to Atlanta in 1977 at the age of 11. By the time he picked up a mic, carrying a heavy New York vibe (he had a slight resemblance to and sounded like Run from Run-DMC and he was being promoted as Afrika Bambaataa’s cousin) his unique, high-pitched voice made him the first Atlanta rapper to break out and tour nationally on the back of booty-shaking romps like, “Shake It.” But most importantly, his first two albums, “Got to Be Tough” and “Comin’ Correct in 88,” scored, what at the time was unprecedented, airplay on local radio for rap music making him Atlanta’s first legit rap star. “The people all over want to know where I be,” he rapped on his hit, “Atlanta That’s Where I Stay.” “Not in New York, in the cold drinking Fanta. But coolin’ down South where it’s hot, in Atlanta.” — Ernie Suggs

Raheem The Dream

Another one of the first rappers from Atlanta to make it to the airwaves, Raheem the Dream helped start Atlanta’s rap scene and hip-hop movement, debuting over 40 years ago. In the 1980s, he was an integral figure in bringing the Miami bass sound to Atlanta rap. His discography features hits like “Freak No’ Mo,” “Toot That Booty Up,” and “The Most Beautiful Girl.” — Ernie Suggs

The 1990s: Atlanta makes the Jump

Silk Tymes Leather

In the 1980′s, Silk Tymes Leather, comprised of Jordan Victoria, Jocelyn Rabon and Dyonna Lewis, became the first Atlanta rap group to sign a record deal with a major label. They were also the first group that megaproducer Jermaine Dupri developed, marking the genesis of his legendary career that crafted Atlanta’s sound. Although the group only had one album under their belt and disbanded before the release of their second, their historic deal paved the way for not only female rappers from the South, but proved that Atlanta rap could capture corporate interests. — DeAsia Paige

Kilo Ali

Part of the first wave of rappers to break through from Atlanta, Kilo Ali’s mainly Miami-styled bass music, dominated the region in the mid-1980s, with songs like “Show Me Love,” “Baby Baby,” and “Love In Ya Mouth.” He has had a nice resurgence thanks to Beyoncé and her 2022 song, “America Has a Problem,” where she sampled Kilo Ali’s classic “America Has a Problem (Cocaine).” — Ernie Suggs

Kris Kross

Kris Kross, comprised of Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly and Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith, was one of the earliest groups created by Dupri. Sporting backward jeans and jerseys, the duo became Atlanta’s first major rap group. Kris Kross had an indelible style and sound that helped cement the pop presence of hip-hop acts. Their 1992 debut single “Jump” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was certified double platinum, a first for an Atlanta hip-hop artist. As preteens, the duo became a youth sensation after the release of their multi-platinum debut album “Totally Krossed Out,” earning them a spot on the European leg of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Tour. The group followed that success with albums “Da Bomb” and “Young, Rich & Dangerous,” which went platinum and gold, respectively. In 2013, Kelly died in his Atlanta home due to a drug overdose. He was 34. Smith runs Urbane Muse, an Atlanta-based clothing and lifestyle site. — DeAsia Paige

Arrested Development

In 1993, there wasn’t a bigger rap act in Georgia, or America, than Arrested Development. The group, helmed by frontman Speech, won Grammy Awards for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, as well as the coveted Best New Artist, a first for a hip-hop act. Although based in Atlanta, Arrested Development’s sound and aesthetic – with songs like “Tennessee,” “Mr. Wendal,” and “People Everyday” from their ground-breaking 1992 debut, “3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of...” — was dug out of the rural South as a positive, Afrocentric alternative to the growing popularity of gangsta rap. While the group has gone through several iterations, released many more albums and regularly tours to sellout crowds, they never duplicated the success of their debut. But their freedom and refusal to conform laid a foundation that many critics say spawned the likes of the Dungeon Family, Goodie Mobb and Outkast. — Ernie Suggs


“The coolest motherfunkers on the planet,” comprised of André 3000 and Big Boi, the dynamic duo are Atlanta staples in the rap game and known for their lyricism, creative flow and eccentricity. The duo released its first album in 1994, “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,” with hits like “Player’s Ball,” and “Git Up and Git Out.” They continued to release hit albums, “Aquemini,” and “Stankonia.” In 2003, a decade after their debut, they dropped their masterpiece, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” It was essentially two solo albums, featuring Big Boi’s “The Way You Move,” and André 3000′s “Hey Ya.” In 2004, the album garnered the duo three Grammy Awards, including the coveted Album of the Year award, making them only the second hip-hop act to win it. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” 290th in the 2020 edition of their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. — Jillian Price

Big Boi

Before and after Outkast, there was “Daddy Fat Sacks,” “General Patton,” “Sir Lucious Leftfoot l,” “Billy Ocean,” “Hot Tub Tony,” and “Francis the Savannah Chitlin’ Pimp.” In other words, Big Boi. One-half of arguably the greatest rap duo of all time, Antwan André Patton was born in Savannah, but was raised and went to high school in Atlanta. His music is defined by streetwise lyricism, intricate wordplay and fun, making him someone you can groove to and feel good having a beer with. Aside from his work with Outkast, stunning guest appearances, a little acting (yeah, he played George Clinton), reality shows and Cadillac commercials, he has also recorded three critically acclaimed solo albums, further cementing him as an Atlanta-based pillar of the genre. — Ernie Suggs

André 3000

André 3000 is one of rap music’s most influential artists. And he doesn’t even have a solo studio album under his belt. For decades, the rapper, born André Benjamin, has wielded his lyrical prowess like a dynamo that doesn’t have an off button. As one-half of the legendary rap group Outkast, he introduced and branded Atlanta’s funk-inspired hip-hop to the masses. As a solo artist, he offered an indelible representation of flamboyance in rap that transformed the way masculinity is perceived in the genre (see: any of the icon’s fashion choices for each Outkast album rollout). As a Southern hip-hop pioneer, he unlocked Atlanta’s rap dominance by simply saying that the “South got something to say” in 1995. And as a highly-coveted featured artist, he created an impressive collection of guest verses that have become their own hip-hop blockbusters and trending topics (see: his verses on Frank Ocean’s “Pink Matter” or Beyoncé's “Party,” or Travis Scott’s “The Ends”). — DeAsia Paige

Goodie Mob

They came out of the Dungeon in 1991 from the same musical tree that gave life to Outkast. Born Cameron Gipp, Willie Knighton Jr., Thomas Callaway and Robert Barnett, the world came to know them as Big Gipp, Khujo, CeeLo and T-Mo. Together, they were the originators of the “Atlanta Sound.” Rooted in soul, R&B, gospel and live instrumentation, Goodie Mob intertwined political and social issues like gentrification, police misconduct and racism in its music. In songs like “Cell Therapy,” from their 1995 debut “Soul Food,” or their scene-stealing duet with Outkast on “Git Up, Git Out,” they shouted out Atlanta, drove down Campbelltown Road and feared the notorious Red Dog unit, asking the question: “I wonder if the gate was put up to keep crime out or to keep our ass in.” It was no accident that when “Soul Food” dropped they were pictured on the cover praying. — Ernie Suggs

Lil Jon

“To the window, to the wall…” You know the rest!!! The memorable line is featured in the 2002 hit, “Get Low” from the “Kings of Crunk,” album by Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz. As the group’s frontman, he emerged as a pioneer in popularizing crunk music. In 2004, the trio released “Crunk Juice,” with another hit, “Lovers and Friends,” which featured Atlanta staples Usher and Ludacris. In 2006, Lil Jon’s solo career took off and he released the single, “Snap Yo Fingers,” which solidified his legacy as crunk music royalty. Lil Jon also shined as a producer, including Usher’s 2004 monster smash, “Yeah!” — Jillian Price

Jermaine Dupri

It’s hard to talk about hip-hop executives and moguls without mentioning Jermaine Dupri. The son of a Columbia Music executive, Dupri produced the hip-hop trio Silk Tymes Leather and later formed the popular teen duo Kris Kross. Dupri founded his own label, So So Def, in 1993 and has collaborated with music titans such as Usher, Lil Kim, Jay-Z, and Mariah Carey. Dupri, the self-proclaimed mayor of Atlanta, made his case in the classic “Welcome to Atlanta,” the city’s unofficial anthem. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018, making him the second hip-hop artist to receive the honor. — Ernie Suggs


“Luda,” as he is affectionately called, is known for his lyricism, clever wordplay and quick flow. He started his career as a radio DJ (Chris Lova Lova was his name) and formed his own record label, Disturbing Tha Peace, in the late '90s. He went on to release his first album in 2000, with hits like “What’s Your Fantasy,” and “Southern Hospitality.” The hits kept coming in the 2000′s, with “Area Codes,” “Move B****,” “Get Back,” and “Runaway Love.” In 2010, he released “Battle of the Sexes,” with songs “My Chick Bad,” and “How Low.” The rapper has also made a successful acting career, serving as a tentpole character in the multi-billion dollar “Fast & Furious” franchise. — Jillian Price

Pastor Troy

Hailing from College Park, Micah Levar “Pastor” Troy got his moniker by combining his dad’s profession with his last name. He released his first studio album, “We Ready (I Declare War)” in 1999 and has released several albums, including “Universal Soldier,” which became popular in the South and had the popular single “Are We Cuttin’.” Troy has worked with other Southern artists such as Lil Jon, Jeezy, and Ludacris. — Shahid Meighan

The Aughts: Stuck in a Trap

Ying Yang Twins

From crunk hits to club bangers, the Ying Yang Twins emerged as pillars in the Atlanta rap scene in the early aughts. Debuting with “Whistle While You Twurk” and their album Thug Walkin, Ying Yang Twins ruled the soundtracks for parties in Atlanta. The duo would continue their success with “Say I Yi Yi,” “Wait (The Whisper Song)“ (which featured the group’s iconic breathy lines that would become a standard for today’s ASMR social media trend), Badd,” “Salt Shaker,” and the constant collaborations with Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz. — DeAsia Paige


T.I., also known as T.I.P or TIP, is an Atlanta native who rose to fame in 2001 with his debut album, “I’m Serious.” His second album “Trap Muzik” dropped in 2003 with hits like, “24′s” and “Rubber Band Man.” He continued to release essential albums, including “King,” and “Paper Trail.” His music jumpstarted trap music, specifically with “Trap Muzik,” showcasing what life was like in his neighborhood. The rapper is also recognized as an entrepreneur. In 2018, he opened Atlanta’s Trap Music Museum and has developed housing and restaurants along the Bankhead neighborhood. He’s been on the big screen, starring in “ATL,” a 2006 movie about the lives of a group of friends growing up in southwest Atlanta. He has also been politically active in Atlanta, serving on several commissions and being called upon to help quell violence during the uprisings of 2020. — Jillian Price

Young Dro

Bankhead native Young Dro gained recognition after his hit single “Yes Sir,” which was featured on his independent album “I Got That Dro.” Two years after releasing his album he signed to T.I.’s music label Grand Hustle. Under Grand Hustle, he released his major label debut “Best Thang Smokin’,” which featured the hit “Shoulder Lean.” He later released several albums and mixtapes, including “Equestrian Dro” and “Drocabulary.” — Shahid Meighan


A veteran in Atlanta’s rap game, Rasheeda is not only an often-overlooked crunk legend but a pioneer for female rappers in the city. And she did most of it while being an independent artist. In the '90s, she was a part of the female rap trio Da Kaperz before launching her solo career. She dropped her debut album “Dirty South” in 2001, which was followed by 2002's “A Ghetto Dream.” In 2012, Rasheeda expanded her career when she became an original cast member on the hit series “Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta.” — DeAsia Paige


Born in Columbia, South Carolina, and raised in Atlanta, Jeezy is trap music royalty. The rapper achieved his first hit as a featured artist on Gucci Mane’s 2005 debut single “Icy.” But during that same year, Jeezy, born Jay Jenkins, magnified that success by being the breakout star of Atlanta supergroup “Boyz n Da Hood” and releasing his major label debut album “Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101.” The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. With tracks like “Soul Survivor,” “Air Forces” and “Go Crazy,” Jeezy stamped his scratchy vocal delivery and street hustle that made him a staple in Atlanta’s lush rap terrain. His 2008 classic single “Put On,” which featured Kanye West, further solidified that status by becoming an essential rap anthem about repping your hometown. — DeAsia Paige

CeeLo Green

One of the breakout stars of the seminal group, Goodie Mob, CeeLo Green is arguably Atlanta’s most recognizable rap-produced pop icon. He was one of the original coaches for the TV series “The Voice,” and regularly does voice-overs, including his star turn on “The Boondocks,” as the Rev. Rollo Goodlove. But CeeLo is music, gospel-infused music. Outside of his work with Goodie Mob, he has released six solo albums and his 2010 hit “Forget You,” - the sanitized title - sold over 6 million copies in the United States. His two critically acclaimed albums as part of Gnarls Barkley earned him two of his five Grammy Awards. — Ernie Suggs

Killer Mike

Killer Mike has positioned himself as Atlanta hip-hop’s most beloved statesman. His multi-faceted career began with his Grammy-winning work on Outkast’s 2001 single “The Whole World.” After a collection of solo albums and mixtapes, he joined the festival phenomenon/socially-conscious rap duo Run the Jewels with rapper El-P. The partnership is most notable for centering Killer Mike as a key voice for understanding the intersection of hip-hop and social justice, which propelled him to become a respected businessman and an unconventional political leader. “Michael,” the rapper’s first solo album in a decade, was released in 2023. — DeAsia Paige

Bone Crusher

A pioneer in making the sound of crunk music mainstream, Bone Crusher cemented himself as a necessary addition to Atlanta’s lush rap history with the release of his debut album “Attenchun!” in 2003. The album boasted the classic single “Never Scared,” which featured T.I. and Killer Mike. “Never Scared” instantly became an Atlanta anthem and crunk music royalty mainly for its infectiously defiant attitude. Bone Crusher raps the beginning of the chorus “So I’m outside of the club and you think I’m a punk/So I go to my loaded tech nine that’s off in the trunk” with a vocal tone so searing and grandiose that it sounds like it’s performed by a choir instead of one person. The power and legacy of “Never Scared” lies in its dissent. Bone Crusher’s fervor throughout the track makes you feel like you can also be as bold and daring as him, which translates to the song’s universal appeal that produced a New York remix of the track with Busta Rhymes, Cam’ron and Jadakiss. — DeAsia Paige

Dem Franchize Boyz

Dem Franchize Boyz is one of Atlanta’s pioneers in snap music. The Bankhead group (consisting of Gerald “Buddie” Tiller, Bernard “Jizzal man” Leverette, Maurice “Parlae” Gleaton, and Jamall “Pimpin” Willingham) released their eponymous debut album in 2004, which boasted their hit “White Tee.” After signing with Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def label in 2005, they released their hit “I Think They Like Me,” as a remix, which featured Dupri, Da Brat and Bow Wow. “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It,” the group’s follow-up single, peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 with its lean dance that’s a must move when the song is played. Today, the group only consists of Willingham and Gleaton. Tiller died of cancer in 2019. — DeAsia Paige

Crime Mob

Cementing themselves as students and leaders of crunk music, Crime Mob formed when each member was still in middle school and high school. The Ellenwood-based act consisted of six members (Diamond, Killa C, Cyco Blac, Princess, Jock aka M.I.G., and Lil Jay) who were so inspired by watching students fight at their school that they wrote songs about them. Their debut hit, 2004′s “Knuck If You Buck,” fully encapsulates the fury and tension before engaging in an altercation. “Knuck If You Buck” was the lead single for the group’s eponymous debut album and became a sacred classic in Black culture that’s still ubiquitous at any cookout, party or college campus today. “Hated on Mostly,” Crime Mob’s second and last album, was released in 2007. — DeAsia Paige

Gucci Mane

One of the most well-known artists in trap music, Gucci Mane has released a long list of mixtapes, singles and albums, including his debut album in 2005, “Trap House.” His second album, “Hard to Kill,” included songs like “Pillz,” and “Freaky Girl.” He continued his success with songs like “Lemonade” and “Wasted” off his 2009 album “The State vs. Radric Davis,” and one of his biggest hits released on various mixtapes, “I Think I Love Her.” — Jillian Price

Yung Joc

Jasiel Amon Robinson, also known as Yung Joc, got his success in the early 2000s. His first album called “New Joc City,” came in 2006, featuring his hit single “It’s Goin Down.” It also featured the song “I Know You See It.” “It’s Goin Down” reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song got him a few award nominations including Best Rap Video in 2006 at the VMAs and Best Rap Song in 2007 at the Grammys. He was also featured on T-Pain’s No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 song, “Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin).” Yung Joc has been on the VH1 series, Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta since 2014. — Jillian Price

Soulja Boy

Soulja Boy is undoubtedly the first viral rap star. Repping Atlanta’s Westside, Soulja Boy catapulted into Atlanta’s rap scene with 2007′s “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” which he self-released via sites like Myspace, SoundClick and YouTube. The song was accompanied by an instructional dance video that not only went viral but became one of the best dance crazes to come out of Atlanta and beyond. “Crank That” spent seven consecutive weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100. It also became the first song to sell over 3 million digital copies, setting the tone for the duration of Soulja Boy’s trailblazing career in bridging the gap between hip-hop and social media fame. — DeAsia Paige

Shawty Lo

A pioneer in snap music, Shawty Lo formed the rap group D4L in 2003 and later created D4L Records. The act’s 2005 hit “Laffy Taffy,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming a snap staple. Born Carlos Rico Walker, Shawty Lo pursued a solo career in 2007 with the release of his debut single “They Know (Dey Know).” The track was boosted by a “Dirty South Remix,” which featured Jeezy, Plies, Lil Wayne and Ludacris. His debut album “Units in the City,” was released in 2008. In 2016, Shawty Lo died in a car crash. — DeAsia Paige

2010s-Present: New Atlanta

Young Thug

Raised in southeast Atlanta, Young Thug has become one of hip-hop’s most colorful superstars. The rapper debuted in 2011 with his “I Came From Nothing” mixtape series. But it was his 2014 single “Stoner” that garnered mainstream attention. The song shined for the rapper’s mumbled diction and infectiously awkward selection of melodies that would become his signature style. Young Thug’s boundless creativity expanded into his avant-garde fashion sense, which became a trending topic after he appeared in a ruffled blue dress for the cover of his mixtape “Jeffery” in 2016. His debut album “So Much Fun,” which dropped in 2019, peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The musician, born Jeffery Williams, has been in custody since his May 2022 arrest on racketeering charges. — DeAsia Paige

Waka Flocka Flame

Waka Flocka Flame, or for short, Waka Flocka, has been a prolific hitmaker since his debut. In 2010, he released his album, “Flockaveli,” which had a series of hits such as, “Hard in Da Paint,” “No Hands,” “Grove St. Party,” and “O Let’s Do It.” Following this, he released a series of mixtapes, along with a 2012 album, “Triple F Life: Friends, Fans & Family.” This album had hits like “Rooster In My Rari,” and “Round of Applause.” He had a handful of songs to chart, including “No Hands.” — Jillian Price


Bobby Ray Simmons Jr., known professionally as B.o.B., released his debut single “Nothin’ on You” with Bruno Mars in 2009. His following singles, including “Airplanes” featuring Paramore’s Hayley Williams and “Magic” both reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. He has gone on to release other albums, including “Strange Clouds” in 2012 and this year’s “A Town Full of Nowhere.” He has collaborated with artists such as Lil Wayne, Taylor Swift, and Nicki Minaj. — Shahid Meighan

Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, is one of the most successful polymaths to emerge from Georgia. The director, actor and rapper began his career as a writer for the NBC sitcom “30 Rock” and later starred as Troy Barnes on “Community.” In 2011, he made his foray into music with the release of his debut project “EP” and album “Camp.” The Stone Mountain native followed that success with the releases of “Because the Internet” and “Awaken, My Love,” which further showcased the artist’s genre-bending flair. In 2016, he dropped his critically acclaimed FX series “Atlanta,” which highlighted the nuances of Black culture while using Atlanta as a backdrop. One of his most recent singles “This Is America” dropped in 2018 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The track, which centered on systemic racism in police brutality in America, was the first rap song to win a Grammy for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. — DeAsia Paige


Nayvadius DeMun Cash, better known as “Future,” is Atlanta rap’s most prolific rockstar of the moment. His career started as one of the members of the esteemed Dungeon Family collective. After releasing his debut album “Pluto” in 2012, Future emerged as a pioneer in weaving trap music with a melodic rap style that’s become pervasive in Atlanta’s hip-hop scene. “March Madness,” one of the most definitive rap tracks of the 2010s, did just that. The 2015 song showcased Future as a skilled rap stylist who can make psychedelic cadences sound like a street anthem. Two years later, he became the first artist to have two albums (”Future” and “Hndrxx”) debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart for two consecutive weeks. To date, the Kirkwood native has released nine albums, garnered countless entries on Billboard charts and won two Grammy awards. — DeAsia Paige

Trinidad James

When Trinidad James released his 2012 smash “All Gold Everything” and its accompanying music video, a star was born. The song is roughly three minutes of enticing wordplay that’s both stellar and simple (”Shout out to them freshmen/On Instagram straight flexin’). It’s a decadent Atlanta rap universe where the street hustlers and weirdos collide. In the video, the Trinidad-born, Atlanta-raised rapper rocks a cheetah-print button-up, a red bandana across his afro, and, of course, several gold chains around his neck — continuing the rich legacy of Atlanta rappers bringing an indelible and uncanny fashion sense into hip-hop. — DeAsia Paige

2 Chainz

Originally from College Park, 2 Chainz got his start in the hip-hop duo Playaz Circle. His solo career took off in the 2010′s with his album “Based on a T.R.U. Story,” with hits like “No Lie,” “I’m Different,” and “Birthday Song.” He released several albums since then, and another essential album “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music” came in 2017, which featured the songs, “Good Drank,” “It’s a Vibe,” and “4 AM.” His influence caught the attention of the executive of the Atlanta-based fast-food chain Krystal, which named 2 Chainz head of creative marketing last year. — Jillian Price


Hailing from southwest Atlanta, Earthgang is one of the most exciting rap duos from Atlanta since Outkast. The group, comprised of Olu (aka Johnny Venus) and Wowgr8 (aka Doctur Dot), met while attending Benjamin E. Mays High School. They were signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records in 2017. “Mirrorland,” their debut studio album, dropped in 2019. The album shined for the group’s blend of funk with a sultry rap sound — illuminating the duo as a fresh addition to Atlanta’s rich history of fusing funk and soul into a distinct hip-hop style. Furthering that style, Earthgang formed the musical collective Spillage Village, which includes fellow Atlanta rapper JID. Earthgang’s latest album “Ghetto Gods” was released in 2022. —DeAsia Paige


Hailing from Lawrenceville, Migos debuted at the height of the mixtape era and catapulted the prominence of trap music to the masses. The rap trio popularized the triplet flow and incorporated adlibs and thunderous single-syllabic chants to craft a distinct style that shaped the sound of Atlanta and beyond. With the release of their breakthrough No. 1 hit “Bad and Boujee” in 2016, the rap trio cemented themselves as the torchbearers of trap music’s indomitable legacy and went on to release three albums. Although the group’s foray into solo careers and Takeoff’s passing cast uncertainty on Migos’ future, the act emerged as a leader in making Atlanta’s culture mainstream. — DeAsia Paige


Sergio Kitchens, better known as Gunna, grew up just south of Atlanta. He got his start in 2016 on Young Thug’s song “Floyd Mayweather,” from the mixtape “Jeffrey.” In 2016, Gunna began his Drip Season mixtape series, released through YSL Records. The series featured Atlanta artists, 21 Savage, Young Thug, Playboi Carti and Lil Baby. His 2022 album “DS4ever” touted hits like “Pushin P,” featuring Young Thug and “P power,” with Drake. Gunna negotiated a plea deal in December in the YSL case in which he maintained his innocence. — Jillian Price

21 Savage

“21, 21, 21...” 21 Savage, or 21 as some call him, was born in London, but moved to Atlanta at age 7. In 2015, the rapper released two mixtapes, but shot to fame in 2016 with his first album with Metro Boomin, “Savage Mode.” The album featured the song “X,” with Future. In 2017, on his debut solo album “Issa Album,” his song “Bank Account,” reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Another album came in 2017 with Offset and Metro Boomin, “Without Warning.” He continued to release successful albums, “I Am > I Was,” “Savage Mode II,” and a joint album with Drake in 2022, “Her Loss.” — Jillian Price


Latto’s unyielding hustle fueled her rise to become Atlanta’s first mainstream female rapper in recent memory, adding a fresh chapter to the city’s male-dominated rap history. Since winning season one of Jermaine Dupri’s now-defunct reality series “The Rap Game” in 2016, the Clayton County native has garnered a No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100, a feature with Mariah Carey, two Grammy nominations and a slew of brand partnerships. — DeAsia Paige

Omeretta the Great

Omeretta the Great possesses a domineering and boastful lyricism and delivery that’ll make you a firm believer in any of her lines. Her debut album “Black Magic: A Dose of Reality,” dropped in 2016. But it was her 2022 single “Sorry Not Sorry” that captured the ears of a wider audience, especially those of Atlanta natives. She soon became known for her narrow definition of Atlanta. The single and video sparked a social media debate about who gets to really claim the city (sorry to Clayton County, Roswell, Lithonia and Decatur residents). She followed that success with a remix that featured Latto. — DeAsia Paige

Lil Yachty

Born as Miles McCollum in Mableton, Lil Yachty has become a household name in contemporary hip-hop and has amassed a huge following. After briefly attending and then dropping out of Alabama State University, he relocated to New York to invest in his music career. In June 2016, he appeared in XXL Magazine as part of the 2016 Freshman Class and performed in the freshman cypher along with Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, and Kodak Black. The following year he released his debut album Teenage Emotions and has released four more albums, including 2023′s “Let’s Start Here.” — Shahid Meighan


Atlanta rapper JID, born Destin Choice Route, is one of the most masterful lyricists in contemporary rap. He released his first album in 2017, “The Never Story,” as a part of J. Cole’s label, Dreamville Records. The East Atlanta native is also a part of Spillage Village, the musical collective in Atlanta, founded by EarthGang. In 2018, “DiCaprio 2,” was released with songs like, “Off Deez,” and “151 Rum.” In 2021, he teamed up with the alternative group, Imagine Dragons, releasing the song “Enemy,” which was recorded for the Netflix series, “Arcane.” The song reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. JID’s most recent album, “The Forever Story,” was released in 2022, and included hits like, “Surround Sound,” featuring 21 Savage and Baby Tate and “Dance Now.” — Jillian Price

Lil Baby

Lil Baby has become a household name in the hip-hop universe. The Grammy-winning artist and Atlanta native released his debut mixtape “Perfect Timing” in 2017, which was followed by his debut album, “Harder Than Ever,” in 2018. The LP featured the Drake-assisted hit “Yes Indeed.” Since then, he has released several successful projects, such as his sophomore album “My Turn” and his third album, “It’s Only Me.” In August 2022, his documentary titled “Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released on Amazon Prime. — Shahid Meighan

Playboi Carti

Billboard calls him one of “Generation Z’s most formative rappers.” Originally from Riverdale, Playboi Carti is known for his occasional childlike voice and rockstar persona. His success took off with his self-titled mixtape in 2017 with songs like, “Magnolia,” and “Wokeuplikethis.” In 2018, the album “Die Lit,” was released with hits like, “Shoota,” and “Fell in Luv.” His last album, “Whole Lotta Red,” was released in 2020, and featured songs, “Sky,” and “ILoveUIHateU.” — Jillian Price

Lil Nas X

The spring and summer of 2019 were nothing without hearing the infectiously unwieldy blend of trap and country that Lil Nas X offered on “Old Town Road.” The single, boosted by a remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, became a record-breaking chart-topper that skyrocketed Lil Nas X into superstardom. Since then, the Lithia Springs native released his Grammy-nominated debut album “Montero” and followed a meteoric rise in rap music that has defied boundaries for how queer artists are perceived in pop culture. — DeAsia Paige

Baby Tate

Tate Sequoya Farris, known professionally as Baby Tate, is the daughter of Atlanta music royalty. Her mom is Dionne Farris, the singer who was featured on Arrested Development’s breakthrough hit “Tennessee,” before becoming one of the foundations of the neo-soul genre. In 2015, she released her debut project “ROYGBIV” and later released her debut album “Girls,” which celebrated women’s empowerment and showcased her genre-bending fusion of rap, pop and R&B. Tate signed a recording contract with Issa Rae’s record label Raedio and produced two singles for the “Insecure” soundtrack. Her latest project “Mani/Pedi” arrived in 2022. — Shahid Meighan

Tony Shhnow

Tony Shhnow is Atlanta’s most beloved underground rapper and its most prolific. One of the shining stars of plugg music (a rap genre that formed in Atlanta in the 2010s and is an airy version of trap music that’s influenced by sounds from video games), Shhnow has released 16 projects to date since starting his career in 2019 (in 2023, he told the AJC that he tries to release at least four projects each year). The Cobb County native’s charming hustle translates into a rap delivery that sounds so effortless that it seems like he could rap in his sleep if he wanted to. His latest album “Love Streak” was released earlier this year. — DeAsia Paige


One of Atlanta’s rising stars, Kaliii released her debut mixtape “This Why They Mad Now” in 2021. The project boasted the rapper’s first viral single “Do A (expletive),” which introduced a wide audience to the rapper’s distinctive sultry and hushed tone that makes her one of rap’s most exciting new talents. Kaliii’s 2023 hit “Area Codes” interpolated Ludacris’ 2001 single of the same name. The track marked the rapper’s first Billboard chart entry, peaking at No. 33. — DeAsia Paige