Love or hate MARTA, it’s hard to deny its place in Atlanta’s culture.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority began running in 1972 and has been helping Atlantans avoid the city’s traffic and get from one place to another since then.
And over that time, MARTA has given plenty of rides to aspiring rappers, apparently. It’s easy to argue that Atlanta is the hip-hop capital of the United States. Go down the city’s roster: OutKast, T.I., Ludacris, Killer Mike, Gucci Mane, Migos, 2 Chainz, Future and on and on and on.
In their rhymes, there’s been several times where these artists have worked their favorite public transportation system into a verse.
Here’s nine times that MARTA has been name-checked in hip-hop songs:
Future — “March Madness”
Bend the curve in a Spur like a MARTA bus / I was workin' and servin' in Nautica / I get high 'til I'm higher than Mercury / (expletive) around, teach you that recipe
A “Spur” is the Bentley Flying Spur, a car made in England. Future thinks that he can take turns in this as if he was driving one of MARTA’s articulated buses, you know, the ones with the bend in the middle that makes it look like an accordion.
Usher — “No Limit”
Ain’t no limit, babe we do it larger / Ain’t no limit babe when you a starter / MARTA outsmart the Rari, Rari / Fill the session with Bacardi Barbies
Usher gets the credit for this song, but this verse comes from Young Thug. It sounds likes he’s throwing a party, and you can fit a lot more people on a MARTA car than you can in a Ferrari. Thugger is being fiscally responsible here and avoiding Atlanta’s traffic, but sticklers riding the train with him might be upset about him and his friends breaking MARTA’s no eating or drinking rules.
OutKast — “Elevators”
One for the money, yes, sir, two for the show / A couple of years ago on Headland and Delowe / Was the start of something good / Where me and my (expletive) rode the MARTA through the hood / Just tryna find that hook up
“Elevators” hit the radio waves on July 9, 1996, so it’s possible that it’s the first rap song to mention MARTA. It was one of the hits from Andre 3000 and Big Boi’s second album, “ATLiens.” In the opening verse, Andre tells us how he and Big Boi used to get around back in those days, like most other folk in Atlanta, by using MARTA. According to a Gawker story, Lamonte’s Beauty Supply was near the intersection of Headland Drive and Delowe Drive in East Point, which is where Rico Wade discovered the duo around 1991.
Kap G — “Girlfriend”
We not the same, Louis V frame / Look where I came, from MARTA trains / Look at my game, I'm like King James /I'm making movies, just like the Wayans
Kap G is a rapper from College Park and annotated the lyrics himself on Genius.com. He writes: “When I was young in high school, me and all my partners, we ain’t have no money. We would sneak into MARTA trains, and we going straight to Lenox Mall, not buying nothing, we just in the food court sampling the Chinese food and all that.”
DJ Khaled — “Work For It”
My ride was a bus named MARTA / Pillow full of Estee Lauder / (expletive) I'm allergic to a Charger / Nothing but foreign cars in my garage, ah
From DJ Khaled’s 2016 album “Major Key,” Atlanta-based rapper 2 Chainz gives us this verse, explaining that he used to ride MARTA, but now only drives foreign cars. 2 Chainz is the American Dream, y’all.
Future — “POA”
To the young (expletive) rockin the Starters / I was sittin' in the back of the MARTA / Now I sit in the back of a foreign / Soon as I took off the ‘Rari / I got the clutch in the carbon
There’s a theme here: most rappers prefer driving foreign cars instead of riding on MARTA.
2 Chainz — “Rolls Royce Weather Everyday”
Mama only child we stayed in a one bedroom (tru) / Used to ride MARTA ‘cause it had more leg room / I'm a ghetto boy, I came up on Brad Jordan / First lick I made, I bought five pairs of Jordans
As 2 Chainz points out, if you get the right seat on MARTA, the amount of leg room can be endless. For Mr. Tauheed Epps, who stands at 6-foot-5 and played basketball at Alabama State, leg room is very important when deciding what method of transportation one might use to get around Atlanta.
Andre 3000 — “A Life in the Day of Benjamin Andre (Incomplete)”
Y'all stand against the wall blindfolded, we throw the darts / To poke you in the heart and take you from the start /To when luxury transportation meant a MARTA card
This is from OutKast’s double album, “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” Here, like in “Elevators,” Andre reminisces on his younger days, before he was famous, when having a MARTA card seemed like it equaled the Ferrari that Future raps about.
Ludacris — “Grew Up A Screw Up”
From hanging on the block to throwing parties in the Hamptons / From, broke as a joke to rich as a (expletive), I bought a / Plane and a boat and six other whips, no MARTA / From dice on the curb to stacking up chips, but harder
After several successful albums and roles in movies, Ludacris doesn’t need MARTA. He can take a boat or a plane to his destination. Speaking of planes, did you know Ludacris owns a restaurant in the Atlanta airport?
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