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The 20 Best Rappers from Atlanta According to Me, a Rap Fanatic

Peace up, A-Town down.

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When André 3000 declared over boos that “the south got something to say” at The Source Awards in 1995, there was a shift in Hip-Hop. The region had just been added to what had been an exclusively east coast vs. west coast genre at the time. With that special focus put upon them, along with expectations that they really took off with, the south was now a viable powerhouse in hip hop.

Today, when we talking about the south in Hip-Hop, no region has had quite as big of an impact like Atlanta.

The best rappers from Atlanta are also some of the best rappers in the world, so figuring out who does and doesn’t make the cut is an excruciatingly difficult, task. I thought long and hard about it, and in my opinion, below in alphabetical order, are some of the best rappers to come out of Atlanta.

1. André 3000

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3 Stacks is widely regarded as not just one of the best rappers that Atlanta has ever birthed, but one of the best to ever do it, period. The only debate about having André on a list like this is whether or not he should be there due to his lack of a solo album, which is fair. I’ve always believed that he has one in The Love Below, but admittedly it’s more an R&B album than anything else. But at the end of the day, Dré doesn’t need his own album to prove his skill as an MC. If you’re listing the best from Atlanta and 3 Stacks doesn’t come up, you’re doing it wrong.

2. Big Boi

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Big Boi only comes right after André 3000 on this list coincidentally because it’s in alphabetical order, but it couldn’t be more perfect. All of his career, he’s been considered second fiddle to Dré which is completely unfair. It’s hard to recall Sir Lucious L. Leftfoot ever being completely washed and outclassed on an OutKast record, and many a time he got the better of his Rap partner. His solo career also speaks for itself.

3. B.o.B

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The expression of some of his beliefs over the past few years has left Bobby Ray in a weird space with fans, but to me, his rapping has never been up for debate. At one point in that blog/backpack era, he was one of the key MCs to watch and he proved it with his May 25th mixtape. He also crossed over successfully to the mainstream with his singles. Remember Airplanes?! Fans are just cruel sometimes and the culture is unforgiving. But at the end of the day, there are many Hustle Gang posse cuts where B.o.B gets the best of some of our favorites and we should acknowledge him for that.

4. CeeLo Green

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It should be some sort of crime to talk about Atlanta Hip-Hop for more than 10 minutes without a member of the Dungeon Family coming up. Goodie Mob was a key piece of that puzzle and its youngest member CeeLo Green is ATL royalty. CeeLo is far superior to what his radio hits "Crazy" and "Fuck You" suggest, with the artist having a hand in collaborations with a who’s who of music. Large scale diversity is a trait we’re seeing less and less of right now, but that’s where Green shines.

Childish Gambino

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I remember first hearing Childish Gambino’s "Bonfire" from his Camp album and being blown away. He wasn’t the type of rapper I expected would give listeners punchline after punchline Lil Wayne style, but he did it very well. The same thing happened a few times after that with a freestyle at HOT 97 and some of his mixtape songs and to me, it was clear that the world was sleeping on Donald Glover. His show Atlanta and the "This Is America" video have helped change that, but his new album 3.15.20 is far from a "Rap" album and might have fans confused about his ability as a rapper. But, I assure you, he is one of ATL’s finest.

6. CyHi The Prynce

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It’s unfortunate that many reading CyHi’s name on this list will only know him for his collaborations with Kanye West, most of which happened 10 long years ago during the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy era. Even during that period, he was going toe to toe on songs with the likes of J. Cole, Pusha T, Big Sean and more and doing more than pulling his weight, coming out with standout verses on numerous records. But please respect CyHi’s solo work and go and listen to Black Hystori Project at the very least. The man is one of Atlanta’s best, bar for bar.

7. Future

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Like a few artists on this list, you can view Future’s career in two halves. The rapper was caught up in Hollywood in the early 2010s, arguably getting stale, but then he went through a public breakup and really reinvented himself with his Monster mixtape in October of 2014. From then, he went on a run worthy of being in the Hall Of Fame with Beast Mode, 56 Nights and DS2, all in the span of under nine months. He could make it on this list just off the strength of those four projects. His ear for melody and writing for Beyoncé and Rihanna also puts him in a space of his own and proves his worth beyond that toxic and painful music that fans love him for.

8. Gucci Mane

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There was a point in time when a lot of Atlanta artists (dubbed by many as The New Atlanta) were blowing up one after another, and almost all of them had some sort of connection to Gucci Mane. Guwop has had his hand in so many careers that it’s unbelievable and fans of his will tell you that his mixtape discography is one of the best out there. Gucci might be a legend based on work ethic alone. I remember him releasing three EPs in one day, all while behind bars.

9. Jeezy

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T.I. might have been the one to name and really bring in the trap era and genre in music, but Jeezy took it and ran with it like no-one else. His 2005 mixtape Trap Or Die is an influential classic, as are a few of his albums. Hip-Hop fans have not been kind to Jeezy in terms of support for a few years now, and I understand and agree with the sentiment that his music feels a little uninspired and "samey" these days, but to not put him on a list like this considering his entire career would be a travesty.

10. J.I.D.

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The first time most of the world was introduced to J.I.D. was The Never Story, which we clicked play on because we knew he was J. Cole’s latest signee. But we stayed for his infectious flows and charisma, two things J.I.D. really continues to pull off effortlessly. When he raps, you just want to hear what he has to say next, because you have no idea what it could be. It’s still early days for him, but the future is bright for Dreamville’s J.I.D. and he just might be Atlanta’s latest greatest best up-and-coming MC.

11. Killer Mike

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Killer Mike’s resumé both inside and outside of Hip-Hop is nothing to turn your nose up at. Along with El-P, he’s made some of the more respected Rap albums of the past decade with the Run The Jewels series and his activism is unrivaled. A lot of young RTJ fans also don’t know that he’s been around since the early 2000s. Like Kendrick said, “critics want to mention that they miss when Hip-Hop was rapping, motherfucker, if you did, then Killer Mike’d be platinum”.

12. Lil Baby

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This social media era means that not all rappers have to go through a grind for years and years before they get their big break anymore. Some people blow up off of their first batch of songs, and some have one foot in with rapping and become huge. That’s Lil Baby’s story. Becoming a rapper wasn’t some passion of his and for many, that is enough to exclude him from any Hip-Hop lists, but it shouldn’t be. His ability to capture your attention on a record is absurd and he makes anthemic-sounding songs. Baby already has some unforgettable moments in the bag ("Freestyle", "Yes Indeed") and it’ll be fun to see where he goes next.

13. Ludacris

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I remember being 12 or 13-years-old and swearing by Ludacris being a top-five rapper out, in around 2010. To be fair, this was almost entirely off the strength of him holding his own against my favorite rapper at the time, Lil Wayne, on ‘Last Of A Dying Breed’, but either way, I got laughed at back then just like I would now. It’s easy to dismiss him as an actor if you’re only familiar with this later stage of his career but go back and check the catalog, Luda is a legend.

14. Offset

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For a long while, Quavo was considered the leading member of Migos, but "Bad And Boujee" changed some things. I haven’t been the biggest fan of Migos’ rapping style, but when Offset shows up the way I know he can, he shows out. On the first song on his album FATHER OF 4, he pours his heart out in a way extremely unfamiliar to fans of Migos’ club records. Another one of my favorite verses from him is on 6LACK’s "Balenciaga Challenge".

15. Quavo

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Melody wasn’t always the thing in Hip-Hop. Mobb Deep’s The Infamous is one of my favorite albums of all time, but on it, Prodigy and Havoc don’t do anything close to what you might call singing, holding a note, or even changing pitch that much. Kanye West, Drake and more helped the transition take place and Quavo is better off because of it. Along with Offset and Takeoff, Quavo was at the forefront of the New Atlanta movement and his musical ear is to be respected.

16. T.I.

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When you think of ATL in Hip-Hop culture, there’s a good chance that T.I. is the first person that comes to mind. If he doesn’t go to jail at the height of his popularity in 2008 (and then again soon after), maybe we’re having a completely different conversation about him in terms of being a mainstream artist, but Tip has had his fair share of commercial success regardless. As a rapper, he held his own with JAY-Z, Kanye West and Lil Wayne on the same song, which speaks for itself. He boasts classic Atlanta songs and last but not least, he helped usher in the trap era. Forget a list, put him on Atlanta’s Mount Rushmore.

17. Young Thug

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Thugger had an entry into Hip-Hop like no other with ‘Stoner’ and ‘Danny Glover’. For a while, the gimmick of not being able to understand what he said and his fashion sense was keeping him going, but more than half a decade later, it’s clear that he’s here to stay for a lot more than that. Thug has been more influential in his short career than many would care to admit, plus when he really raps (see Swizz Beatz’s ’25 Soldiers’ and Drake’s ‘Sacrifices’), the way he captures your attention and his unpredictability is undeniable.

18. 2 Chainz

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If 2 Chainz doesn’t make the bold decision to reinvent himself and come with the music to prove that we should care about his career again, he probably doesn’t make this list. If he’s still Tity Boi, unfortunately, he’s probably remembered for being one of the other rappers on ‘Duffle Bag Boy’. But he’s not, so he isn’t. Instead, Chainz is the perfect example of why being young in Hip-Hop is overrated, hitting his stride decades into his career.

19. 21 Savage

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I’ll be the first one to admit that I was skeptical about 21 Savage when his name first started buzzing with Savage Mode in the summer of 2016. Like others, I heard snippets here and there, saw the reception to him, then wrote him off as just another rapper rapping about nothing new. But then I actually hit play on the project and I was humbled, slapped back into reality. At the end of the day, there’s more to rapping than metaphors and double entendre and 21 is the embodiment of that.

20. 6LACK

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Yes, 6LACK is a singer, but what a lot of people don’t know is that he started off as a battle rapper. On the internet, there’s even footage of him battling Young Thug back in the day. One of my favorite displays of his rapping is on ‘Nonchalant’ from his last album East Atlanta Love Letter. The world ran with the “I’m somewhere between humble and ‘Hell Nah’” line, but the entire song is a goldmine of witty bars. I love his unique fusion of Hip-Hop and R&B, but I’d be intrigued to hear how a 6LACK pure Rap album sounds.

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