This past Labor Day, almost every 90s hip hop and rap artist from your childhood was present at the ATL Rise: The Untold Story of Atlanta’s Rise in the Rap Game film premiere. Hosted at the illustrious Rialto and featuring the likes of the honorable Andrew Young and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed as well as Pastor Troy, Killer Mike, Kilo Ali, Shanti Das, Ludacris, Larenz Tate, Letoya Luckett, Bone Crusher, Raheem The Dream and was hosted by hip hop journalist Maurice Garland, it was like being a part of a legendary class reunion.
The ATL:RISE Photography Exhibit featured photography from New York based photographer, Sam Norval. The gallery displayed the film’s 37 interviewees and represents a cross section of the city’s most creative ATLiens.
WhyCauseICan.com got the opportunity to interview some of the featured artists, executives, as well as the film’s producers to ask them some of our burning questions.
What inspired you to be a part of this project?
Working with Luda, who also helped to produce the film, we discussed how you always hear about New York and LA, but the story of Atlanta is hardly ever told…even though, when you turn on the radio, you can hear the Atlanta influence. How has there not been a documentary created about Atlanta music? We knew the story needed to be told. It was created to represent the underdog story.
-Rick Cikowski; co-executive producer
So Rick, who are your current top three Atlanta rappers?
I am sworn to say Ludacris first (he laughs). How can you not talk about Atlanta and think about TI and honestly Rich Homie Quan…Type of Way is like my theme song
Why is a film like this so important to Atlanta?
The story needs to be told. It’s pivotal. It’s all about the rise of Atlanta that happened in the 90s. You HAVE to pay homage to it.
-Pastor Troy, legendary Atlanta Rapper
…because the story has really never been told properly and even before Outkast, there was MC Shy D, it was Kilo, it was Raheem. So we already had a rap culture already going on as far as booty shake music, but it wasn’t traditional hip hop in the sense of New York City. People needed to know we were still doing our thing in the rap game and then Outkast and Goodie Mob took us to a national level, then Ludacris and TI, then came Jeezy and everyone else. We’ve had a hip hop subculture going on here, it’s just know one knew about it.
-Shanti Das, heavy hitting hip hop executive
Because it has not documented it’s actual history, it’s just (been) myth and fables.
-Killer Mike, Hip Hop Artist and Activitst
What was your favorite part of the film?
The story of how the start of the hip hop music scene (was) connected to the history of the city. They connected the social scene to the music and showed how it was a huge influence to the music.
-Maurice Garland, hip hop journalist
What can we expect to see in the film?
-Brad Bernstein, film co-producer
About ATL Rise: The Untold Story of Atlanta’s Rise in the Rap Game
VH1’s award-winning “Rock Doc” franchise takes you down to Hotlanta with the premiere of “ATL: The Untold Story of Atlanta’s Rise in the Rap Game” on TODAY at 10PM ET/PT. The 90-minute documentary investigates the rich, complex and untold story of Atlanta’s fascinating rise to the top of the rap industry, which created a major force within American music. The film chronicles the decisions of the city’s forefathers in post-civil rights Atlanta as they created an environment for African-American arts and culture to thrive, which set the scene for a local hip-hop scene to emerge.
This documentary is written, directed, edited and executive produced by Brad Bernstein, Rick Cikowski and Brandon Dumlao for Corner of the Cave Media. Executive producers also include Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Chaka Zulu, Jeff Dixon, Aiyisha T. Obafemi, Jason Jeter and Bernard Parks. Executive producers for VH1 include Warren Cohen, Brad Abramson and Stephen Mintz.
Check out photos from the premiere below.