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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

'ATL: The Untold Story of Atlanta's Rise in the Rap Game' airs Tuesday on VH1

ONLY IN ATLANTA: Killer Mike (left) and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young chop it up before Sundays premiere of ATL: The Untold Story of Atlantas Rise in the Rap Game.
  • Rodney Carmichael
  • ONLY IN ATLANTA: Killer Mike (left) and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young chop it up before Sunday's premiere of 'ATL: The Untold Story of Atlanta's Rise in the Rap Game.'

Imagine a family reunion where all the uncles and aunts in attendance happen to be the forebears of Atlanta’s hip-hop scene. That was the vibe at the Rialto Theater on Sunday, Aug. 31 for the premiere of the new VH1 documentary, ATL: The Untold Story of Atlanta’s Rise in the Rap Game.

Not even the arrival of surprise guest R. Kelly and his entourage could sway the crowd’s attention from a celebration 30 years in the making. Scheduled to air tonight (Tues., Sept. 2) at 10 p.m., the 63-minute film documents the city’s rise from hip-hop’s boondocks to undisputed rap capital.

But this documentary forgoes the sheen and bling of Black Hollywood for the city’s meager, mostly overlooked hip-hop beginnings. It pays well-deserved tribute, instead, to frequently overlooked early contributors like MC Shy D, Kilo Ali, Raheem the Dream, King Edward J., and the groundwork laid by producers Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupri, and Organized Noize.

By linking the city’s rap scene with its historic civil rights roots, the film sets Atlanta’s southern breed of hip-hop apart from the coasts that alternately dominated the genre before the South’s rise. The doc also ties the local scene’s launch in 1982 — when Mo-Jo became the first local rapper to release a record with “Battmann: Let Mo-Jo Handle It” — to the end of Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered Children case that plagued the city’s African-American community for four years before reportedly ending that same year.

Coverage of the premiere at the Rialto Theater on Sun., Aug. 31 continues at Crib Notes. The documentary airs on VH1 tonight at 10 p.m. ATL: Rise, a photography exhibit featuring portraits of all 37 interviewees from the documentary, will be on display at the Rialto Theater through Sept. 26.

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