Heat Check: Bear1Boss is the pop star of Atlanta rap

Plus the power of #TateTuesdays and the rap beef that’s finally over (hopefully)
Atlanta rapper Bear1Boss, born Daniel Pointer, released his latest album, "Bubbles," on May 6. Handout.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Atlanta rapper Bear1Boss, born Daniel Pointer, released his latest album, "Bubbles," on May 6. Handout.

Welcome to Heat Check, a biweekly music column where AJC culture reporter DeAsia Paige explores the temperature of Georgia’s buzzing, expansive music scene. The column includes music news, trends and any Georgia-related music that DeAsia is listening to. If you’re a Georgia artist and have music you want to be considered for this column — or if you just want to talk music — feel free to send an email to deasia.paige@ajc.com.

Bear1Boss is ready for superstardom

When I meet Bear1Boss at Atlanta’s Street Execs Studios, he looks just as animated as his music. He has dreads that are dyed green. He’s wearing a red E.T. hoodie, skinny jeans and Christian Louboutin high-top sneakers. Indeed, Bear1Boss is out of this world.

But, at the same time, the rapper’s eccentricity follows Atlanta’s rich lineage of birthing artists who are as weird as they are southern (Outkast, ILoveMakonnen, etc.). Bear1Boss is a true ATLien. On his latest album, “Bubbles” (which dropped May 6), he further explores just how fun and buoyant he can be on candy-coated pop beats.

The 25-year-old rapper, born Daniel Pointer, said “Bubbles” is likely his most grounded project to date. And that’s no hyperbole, given he’s dropped more than 20 projects since 2016.

“[Before], I felt like I was trying to regain my balance and rap like the rent was due. I was trying to prove something. ‘Bubbles’ is more of me not having anything to prove because I’m there. I believe in myself again.”

The 11-track album embodies every feeling of its namesake. There are songs such as the Popstar Benny-produced “Cannonball” that sounds like you’re playing a video game set at a water park. Or “I Am Not a Pimp,” a carefree track, lifted by airy synths, on which Bear1Boss brags about being at ease with his rapper lifestyle (”life can be easy/life can be simple”).

Bear1Boss is the self-described pop star who doesn’t care how others perceive his unorthodox style. For him, his sound is already legendary. And he’s eager for more to listen.

The rapper recently signed a co-publishing deal with Rick Rubin’s American Songs and Pulse Music Group. But he’s still an independent artist who’s determined to take his sound to the masses. He doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.

“I’m going to have a legendary run. I’m 25. I’m not stopping, so when I get my run, I’m probably going to be like that for the rest of eternity. It’s going to go in the books. Everybody’s going to notice it.”

Baby Tate is ruling #TateTuesday
Check out Atlanta rapper Baby Tate's #TateTuesday freestyles over the beat of her favorite songs. Photo by Jonathan Weiner

Credit: Jonathan Weiner

icon to expand image

Credit: Jonathan Weiner

Have you tuned into #TateTuesday? If you haven’t, then you should.

Decatur-bred artist Baby Tate started a weekly social media series in which she performs freestyles over the beat of her favorite songs. The trend started after her On the Radar appearance went viral on social media last month. For nearly three minutes, the singer and rapper pays homage to her idols (including her mom, the legendary singer Dionne Farris) while seamlessly blending her clever lyricism and soulful vocals over the Neptunes-produced beat for Snoop Dogg’s “Let’s Get Blown.”

Tate followed that success by feeding fans with more freestyles each week. Take her Mother’s Day-themed #TateTuesday, for example. Using Victoria Monét’s “On My Mama” as the backdrop, Baby Tate showcases more of her silky tone to deliver a poetic ode to her mom that sounds like a groovy spoken word that you’d hear on a ‘90s neo-soul album. On another #TateTuesday, she dives headfirst into a vicious rap persona with tantalizing lyrics about her being theee one to watch — all over the menacing beat for the Kendrick Lamar warning “Like That.”

With a refreshingly versatile artistry that proves she can conquer any genre, Baby Tate’s #TateTuesday uncovers just why more people should be watching her.

Atlanta shaped the center of a very, very long rap battle
Critique of the Kendrick Lamar and Drake beef and how Atlanta plays a role in it.

Credit: ArLuther Lee

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Credit: ArLuther Lee

It appears that the rap battle royale of the year is finally over (thank God). For a staggering six weeks, the feud between Drake and Kendrick Lamar has dominated pop culture. Infiltrated social media timelines. Made being a hater sound exciting. Motivated the spirit of more rappers to join the fun while inciting discomfort in the souls of others (I’m looking at you, J.Cole).

As of this writing Kendrick Lamar’s latest dis, the DJ Mustard-produced banger “Not Like Us,” is the No. 1 song in the country, which feels like the appropriate closing of a battle that felt like it was never going to end. And it all started with “Like That,” a song from a Future and Metro Boomin album. In fact, Atlanta rap continued to dominate the duration of the beef. Lamar expertly contextualizes its power on “Not Like Us.”

According to him, the city’s rap scene is so grandiose that it helped Drake become the biggest rapper in the world.

“You called Future when you didn’t see the club/Lil Baby helped you get your lingo up/21 gave you false street cred/Thug made you feel like you a slime in your head/Quavo said you can be from Northside/2 Chainz say you good, but he lied/You run to Atlanta when you need a few dollars/No, you not a colleague, you a [expletive] colonizer.”

Atlanta marked the beginning and end of the most exhilarating rap beef in recent memory — proving that city is the supreme ruler of hip-hop that will continue to shape historic moments. While Lamar became a pyrrhic victor of a battle that turned into disappointing bars about domestic violence and pedophilia (a topic both rappers should’ve avoided, given their respective histories of supporting abusers), Atlanta emerged as the beef’s MVP.