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Atlanta Indie Festival gives underground rap a sharper image 

Mach 5’s Corey Davis gets his hustle on

By day, Corey Davis tattoos images on clients at Atlanta's City of Ink. In his spare time, he tailors his own image as a member of Mach 5 and reimagines Atlanta's underground hip-hop scene as co-founder of the second annual Atlanta Indie Music and Arts Festival.

In Davis' lexicon, "indie" is more than a musical genre; it's a blueprint for success. "You can't really depend on people to handle stuff like you really want to," he says regarding his leap from performer to promoter.  "Nobody puts as much care into it as you would yourself."

Davis' own hustle developed as a result of promoting Mach 5, the duo he started six years ago with festival co-founder A. Ware when they were still North Springs High School juniors. "I studied advertising and design," says the Savannah College of Art and Design senior, "so it helped me learn how to branch out and market myself as well as be an artist."

With the industry in a state of flux, the artist who casts a vision for his career entices labels the most, Davis believes. "They want to hear a whole album now instead of one single, to hear what you have next after that single, see if you have a whole package with your brand, your image," says Davis, who pushes his indie agenda on the blog Greedmont Park.

For the festival, Davis rounded up a range of buzzworthy local and national acts, both unsigned and signed, including Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music artist Big Sean. "These are people who have good branding skills themselves," he says.

With a turnout of 400, last year's fest, held in November in the parking lot of the urban boutique the Bench, was a success. But Davis hopes for a crowd closer to 1,000 this year. He also intends to take the festival to Chicago in September and later to L.A., mixing Atlanta acts with locals in both cities. "We just want to bring everybody together and unify things, get a lot of buzz and draw people around."

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