50 Years of Hip-Hop: T.I., Goodie Mob to headline free Atlanta concert

Despite everything that he has to do in running one of the largest cities in the South, Mayor Andre Dickens always seems to have time for one of his favorite pastimes, hip-hop.

He went to school with members of Goodie Mob, traded clothes with a young Andre 3000 and was even a member of his own dance crew in high school.

“It was a fun time to be alive because the music was everything,” said Dickens, who danced with a crew called Off Limits that specialized in a dance called “The Yeek.” “You know, you go to school by day, go to practice at night. I always ended up in somebody’s basement practice in a dance routine to get ready to battle.”

Atlanta isn’t far removed from those moments, as the city has emerged as one of the genre’s capitals, unleashing on the world a steady stream of hip-hop-inspired fashion, art, politics and of course music.

To mark the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and to highlight Atlanta’s big contributions, Dickens has announced the launch of “ATL 50 Hip Hop,” a multi-week series of events that will include academic talks, a movie series, art shows, the laying of a time capsule, old-school skating parties and a major free concert.

“Atlanta’s role in the evolution of hip hop has been outsized and indisputable,” Dickens said. “It’s only fitting the city of Atlanta joins our community in celebrating the industry and culture we helped shape and helped shape us.”

On Aug. 13, Dickens, along with Grammy Award-winning producer and So So Def CEO Jermaine Dupri and radio personality Ryan Cameron, will host a free concert at the Lakewood Amphitheatre in South Atlanta.

Credit: Ryon Horne / Ryon.Horne@ajc.com

Credit: Ryon Horne / Ryon.Horne@ajc.com

“Yesterday, Today and (404)-Ever” will feature performances by Atlanta hip hop icons T.I., Goodie Mob, EarthGang, Backbone, Crime Mob, Omeretta The Great and Scotty ATL.

“What hip-hop means to me is freedom,” Dickens said. “A freedom of expression that gives you the opportunity to share what goes on in your community, your heart and your dreams. And to be able to live it out lyrically.”

Credit: JESSICA MCGOWAN / jmcgowan@ajc.com

Credit: JESSICA MCGOWAN / jmcgowan@ajc.com

Aside from the concert, Dickens said he hopes the celebration of hip-hop paints a picture of how it developed through an Atlanta lens.

While hip-hop started in dance halls in the Bronx in 1973, Atlanta eventually embraced and helped define the genre.

In the 1970s and early 1980s some of Atlanta’s major forms of entertainment — and cultural development — were city-wide talent shows and skate parties where would-be rappers and dance crews honed their trades, listening to early pioneers like Mojo and MC Shy-D, whose music was spun by deejays like D.J. Jelly.

To revisit that, the city will host a Hip Hop 50 Skate Day at Cascade Skating rink on Aug. 5 at 1 p.m.



On Aug. 10 at City Hall, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs will host a night of hip-hop featuring iconic photographic portraits by Cam Kirk; a curation of Atlanta album cover designs by artist DL Warfield; and performances by dance troupes WeOnFyre and Bautanzt Here.

Later on Aug. 10, in partnership with the Auburn Avenue Research Library, the city will host a movie night and show a series of hip-hop-related movies.

On Aug. 12, Guardian Studios is hosting a collection of pop-up galleries, open studios, graffiti restoration, and dance performances to showcase the students of ARTSCOOL, Guardian and the Creative Project. There will also be a mural unveiling at the event.

What else is on tap? The city, along with Butter.ATL, will host “Spirit Week,” honoring a segment of the genre daily.

  • Aug. 7: Kris Kross Day. Kris Kross was the first Atlanta rap group to break through nationally, selling more than six million copies of their debut album, “Totally Krossed Out.”
  • Aug. 8: ATL Dance Day.
  • Aug. 9: Rep Your City Day.
  • Aug. 10: Dungeon Family Appreciation Day. The Dungeon Family is a collective of Atlanta rappers and producers who literally worked out of a “dungeon” to create a sound that is unique to Atlanta. Out of the Dungeon came OutKast, the Goodie Mobb and Organized Noize.
  • Aug. 11: Hip Hop Day, where local radio personality Ryan Cameron will broadcast live from Atlanta’s city hall.
  • Dickens said that the city will also support Hip Hop 50 programming through September and October, including ONE Musicfest, Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def 30th Anniversary Festival, and a monthly concert series at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.



“Hip Hop goes beyond music — from fashion to art to building economic empires or political movements,” Dickens said. “It resonates beyond sound.”

But can he still dance?

“Could I Yeek today?” the mayor asked rhetorically. “Yeah. But the way my knees and back are, I couldn’t do it for too long. Those dances cost you a whole lot of energy.”

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