If Vice can venture into North Korea and leave unscathed, I’m sure that they can survive the precarious Atlanta trap. Through its Noisey imprint, Vice has produced some excellent documentaries that journeyed to some of the more isolated hubs for music, including Jamaica and “Chiraq” (Chicago). Noisey’s newest production, a 10 part series on Atlanta’s rap scene, takes viewers straight into the heart of the trap (a term used to describe an area where drug transactions takes place). Trap music is practically the blue print of current hip-hop, as seemingly every song uses heavy bass, quick hitting hi hats, and synths/strings, elements that are synonymous with the trap sound.
I’ve been watching “Atlanta” since it came out and a few weeks ago, I attended a screening held by Noisey where they showed some episodes that haven’t yet aired. Once again, I’ve been impressed with the doc, as Noisey was able to gain some really exclusive access to some of the most dangerous areas of the ATL, interviewing rappers that are figureheads in these hoods. Right from the first episode, they showed someone cooking crack on camera; where else can you see this? This is a world I have absolutely no knowledge of other than what’s portrayed in songs by Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy, and I’m sure the same goes for 99% of those that watch “Atlanta”.
With that said, I was surprised by some of the crowd reactions during the screening. The doc goes into some impoverished, depleted, and violent areas where people are struggling to get by. It’s a pretty serious situation, yet there were many moments where the crowd was laughing at what was on the screen. They laughed at stories about struggling in the hood told by folks with such thick Southern accents, Noisey had to use subtitles. They laughed at folks getting high off PCP laced joints and playing basketball barefoot in the street. They laughed at the White people that bought property to fix up in these hoods, but eventually fled because these areas were too dangerous. These docs were suppose to open people’s eyes to new worlds, but they weren’t getting that this was real life and they were just laughing at other people’s misfortunes. Like I said, 99% of “Atlanta”’s viewers know nothing about the trap, so it could be all entertainment to them, which probably contradicts Noisey’s objective. There was a scene in the doc where they asked people in Atlanta if they knew why it was called trap music (mostly referring to the EDM variation), and people were clueless.
After the screening, guests were treated to a mini concert. Before the show, the DJ spun an all ATL hip-hop set, which made me realize that Atlanta has been the epicenter of the hip-hop world for a number of years, from the Outkast days, to the snap-music era, to the make-up-a-whack-dance-one-hit-wonders, and now with trap. Atlanta has been a leader because it’s been able to create it’s own lanes rather than follow others, in addition to perfecting sonically pleasing production. Coincidentally, it was a Tuesday night, which made the performance by ILoveMakonnen fitting. Father joined him, and both were pretty lackluster. I’m not buying any ILoveMakonnen stock at this moment.
“Atlanta” is definitely worth checking out. You can watch Noisey’s Atlanta here.