Love perusing through social media to find out what your favorite influencers are up to? Get a closer glimpse into how they spend their time in Atlanta with “ATL Closeup,” a new AJC feature that explores the leisure lives of some of the city’s most notable personalities as they go from work to play mode over the course of a typical weekend —from their favorite places to dine to the little-known spots where they find retreat.
Justice Baiden hasn’t slept in about 22 hours. Fresh off a flight from New Orleans, where he attended the Essence Festival, the music executive is tired but eager to trim his to-do list in his office at LVRN, the record label and management company he co-founded.
“I’ll just sleep on my flight to Los Angeles tomorrow,” he said.
For the last several years, business has been nonstop for the Cobb County native and his co-founders Sean McNichol, Carlon Ramong, Junia Abaidoo, and Tunde Balogun. Since 2013, the entrepreneurs, who met while attending Georgia State and Kennesaw State universities, have added 6lack, D.R.A.M., Boogie, and Summer Walker to their roster.
Each of those artists, two of whom are from Atlanta, have earned spots on the Billboard 200 charts.
As the head of A&R for LVRN, short for Love Renaissance, Baiden’s role has been integral. The 27-year-old, who grew up in Kennesaw, has an ear for authentic storytellers and is determined to provide an outlet for creatives, especially those in his hometown.
“Atlanta is special. A part of our journey is making sure we pay it forward to the 13- or 14-year-old, so they feel like they don’t have to leave Atlanta to be able to get the things necessary to be a creative,” he said. “For me, it’s about figuring how we can keep this Atlanta thing going longer and better than the one before us. Atlanta always finds a way to reintroduce itself, because the OGs help the younger ones and vice versa. It’s friendly competition.”
When Baiden isn’t scouting new talent or organizing tour schedules, the Westside resident is carving out time to hit up some of his favorite places. Here’s where you’ll likely find him on any given weekend in Atlanta.
Finger-licking good meal
About four or five years ago, Baiden discovered Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano near Midtown, and the eatery has been one of his go-to spots ever since.
“It tastes amazing,” he raved. “If you haven’t been there, you’re missing out.”
The restaurant, which is a part of Little Italia, a conglomerate of cafes with authentic Italian food, offers a variety of menu items, including paninis and entrees. But Baiden always orders the Diavola. It features chicken cooked with calabrian peperoncino, garlic, and crushed red peppers. It has a spicy kick to it, so he pairs it with some potatoes and a side salad.
“It’s a guaranteed amazing meal. I love getting the upmost taste while eating clean,” he said.
His top dining pick:
Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano, 1099 Hemphill Ave. NW, Atlanta. 404-347-3874. littleitalia.com.
If you scroll through his Instagram page, @JusticeWearsCoolPants, you’ll see him a bunch of eclectic outfits that almost always include ... cool pants.
“My fashion sense is very understated but very loud at the same time,” Baiden said. “It’s a representation of me. It’s a contradiction.”
“Rag-O-Rama actually saved me in college,” he reminisced. “I was such a collector when it came to clothes. Anytime I was broke, I would go there and sell my clothes and I got good value for them. I love it there.”
His top shopping picks:
A Ma Maniére, 969 Marietta St. NW #200, Atlanta. 404-975-3380. a-ma-maniere.com.
Rag-O-Rama, 1111 Euclid Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-658-1988. ragorama.com.
For Baiden, the recipe for fun starts with great company. Whether he’s hanging out at the studio, a bar, or a strip club, he’s always having a good time with his friends.
“Atlanta is unique in that way,” he said. “We’re able to sit right in the middle of all those things.”
One of the best places to experience nightlife in Atlanta is at Medusa though, Baiden said. Migos, Lil Baby, and T.I. have all partied at the restaurant and lounge located in North Atlanta.
“It’s very loud, obnoxious and in your face,” he said. “It’s like everyone is trying to defy gravity. The people there are trying to figure out how to step on the couch the way no one else has stepped on the couch. That’s the vibe. It’s tight.”
His top party picks:
Medusa, 3375 Buford Hwy NE #1170, Atlanta. medusa-atl.com.
The wind down
Baiden admits he doesn’t know how to relax. It’s challenging for him to exit work mode.
“I get into a lot of trouble with all my friends, because I don’t know how to turn it off,” he said. “I have to learn that skill.”
When he does need to find solace, music always helps. He’ll just plug in his headphones at home or walk into one of the three studio spaces at LVRN or attend one of the events there to hear new tracks.
“One of my favorite events is ‘LVRN Unplugged,’” he said. “We take artists who don’t usually get to experience their music in a live setting and put a band and orchestral section behind them. It’s beautiful.”
His top relax destination:
LVRN Studios, 602 Marietta St. NW Unit B, Atlanta. lvrn.com.
If you like tacos with a twist, Baiden said Hankook Taqueria near Buckhead is a must try.
“It’ll be the best tacos you’ve ever had,” he said. “They have this buffalo chicken taco that’s incredible. It’s all Korean flavored. It’s wild.”
The family-owned business, which has locations in Dunwoody and Midtown, also serves up burritos and bowls and has been featured on Food Network's “Diners, Drive ins and Dives” as well as Food and Wine Magazine and Men's Health.
“I also found that spot when I was in college,” he said. “It has a huge cult following. Everybody knows about it, but no body knows about it at the same time. They deserve all the shine.”
If you go:
Hankook Taqueria, 1341 Collier Road NW, Atlanta. 404-352-8881. mytakorea.com.
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