Rap capital An Atlanta story

Joe Coscarelli

Book - 2022

"From mansions to trap houses, office buildings to strip clubs, Atlanta is defined by its rap music. But this flashy and fast-paced world is rarely seen below surface-level as a collection not of superheroes and villains, cartoons and caricatures, but of flawed and inspired individuals all trying to get a piece of what everyone else seems to have. In artistic, commercial, and human terms, Atlanta rap represents the most consequential musical ecosystem of this century so far. The lives of th...e artists driving the culture, from megastars like Lil Baby and Migos to lesser-known local strivers like Lil Reek and Marlo, represent the modern American dream but also an American nightmare, as young Black men and women wrestle generational curses, crippled school systems, incarceration, and racism on the way to an improbable destination atop art and commerce. Across Atlanta, rap dreams power countless overlapping economies, but they're also a gamble, one that could make a poor man rich or a poor man poorer, land someone in jail or keep them out of it. Drawing on years of reporting, more than a hundred interviews, dozens of hours in recording studios and on immersive ride-alongs, acclaimed New York Times reporter Joe Coscarelli weaves a cinematic tapestry of this singular American culture as it took over in the last decade, from the big names to the lesser-seen prospects, managers, grunt-workers, mothers, DJs, lawyers and dealers that are equally important to the industry." --Provided by Publisher.

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2nd Floor New Shelf 781.649/Coscarelli (NEW SHELF) Checked In
New York : Simon & Schuster 2022.
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Item Description
Includes bibliographical references (pages 373-397) and index.
Physical Description
xxvi, 415 pages : map ; 24 cm
Main Author
Joe Coscarelli (author)
Review by Booklist Review

New York Times culture writer Coscarelli's debut book is a sprawling, narrative nonfiction work detailing the come-up and legacy of the Atlanta rap scene. Coscarelli traces the beginnings of a thriving music culture starting in the 1990s, touches on the early 2000s and groups like Outkast, and mainly focuses on the trap rap of the 2010s to the present. As trap (slang for a place dedicated to dealing drugs) grew in popularity, it also became a way to make money and stay off the streets and out of jail for a growing number of young Black men, many of whom were shepherded through (often short-lived) rap careers by Kevin "Coach K" Lee and Pierre "P" Thomas and their label, Quality Control. Some, like Lil Baby and Migos, found huge success, while others, like Reek and Marlo, struggled. Coscarelli was embedded in the Atlanta scene for several years, making his storytelling feel both historic and immediate as it places the reader right there with him. Fans of behind-the-music stories will be glued to the page.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this pulsating work, Coscarelli, a culture reporter for the New York Times, traces the growth of the legendary Atlanta rap scene, crafting an epic of music history. Delving into Atlanta's thriving music scene in the 1990s--a melding of "influences from the North, South and West, befitting Atlanta's geography and its status as a transportation hub"--Coscarelli tackles a hefty subject manner as he painstakingly pieces together the countless moments that would later define the sound of the city, from the energy and excitement of the Freaknik festival to the rise of LaFace records and the birth of "crunk." Yet just as important, Coscarelli conveys, were the rap scene's trailblazing artists (OutKast, Quavo, Marlo, Lil Yachty), whose accomplishments and struggles didn't simply paint a picture of career innovation but also reflected the adversity and triumph of Atlanta's Black residents, who "have proven time and again to be resolute, resourceful and experimental, continually pushing boundaries in politics and culture." Unparalleled success and crashing downfalls would be hallmarks to many artists, but, as Coscarelli makes stunningly apparent, their contributions put Atlanta on the map, turning "the chip on the city's shoulder... to a stage." This impassioned tribute to an overlooked pillar of music is spectacular. Agent: William LoTurco, LoTurco Agency. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

Journalist Coscarelli, a culture and music reporter for the New York Times, takes listeners deep into Atlanta's rap scene, detailing the ways that popular culture and rap influence each other in a nearly symbiotic relationship. Coscarelli uses his journalistic prowess to provide a full survey of Atlanta's rap culture, from front porches and backseats to recording studios. Listeners are invited to see the entirety of the rap scene in beautiful detail. Narrator Landon Woodson matches Coscarelli's tone, maintaining a professional distance that leaves room for profound emotion. Neither shies away from the hard reality of rap culture, but the focus is highlighting the creative hustle of its participants. The work discusses internationally known Atlantan stars like Migos and Lil Baby alongside lesser-known artists like Lil Reek and Marlo, showcasing the full spectrum of an industry that is hard to break into and even harder to stay in. Not everyone makes it, but many are desperate to try. VERDICT Rap's dominance in popular culture makes this an excellent addition to any library celebrating music, but it is especially important for libraries in the Southeastern United States, a region whose cultural and musical accomplishments, particularly those by Black artists, are sometimes overlooked.--Carmanita Turner

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A culture reporter examines the rap landscape of Atlanta, which has birthed "some of the most impactful, commercially successful and influential music of the last thirty-plus years." Hip-hop fame can be fleeting and inexplicable, and this oddly structured tale reflects that reality, following sensations that didn't pan out and skipping over stars that made it big. "In human terms and in musical ones," writes New York Times reporter Coscarelli, "Atlanta rap represents the most consequential musical ecosystem of this century so far." However, he quickly switches from such broad declarations, bouncing quickly past Atlanta hip-hop legends like Outkast, T.I., and TLC as well as music executives like L.A. Reid and Jermaine Dupri. The author focuses on the beginnings of the influential Quality Control label, which launched the careers of current stars Migos, Lil Yachty, and, most importantly, Lil Baby. It's a fascinating story about the struggles of hip-hop authenticity, and Coscarelli is a decent storyteller--though he leans more on interviews with Lil Baby's mother than with the rapper himself, and his tumultuous life and artistic decisions could bear deeper consideration. Though Baby's hit "The Bigger Picture," inspired by the police murder of George Floyd, became incredibly influential, especially after its stunning performance at the 2021 Grammy Awards, Coscarelli only spends a short section discussing it. "I wanted to use a specific situation that would give people an understanding of where I come from," he quotes the rapper, with little more explanation. That focus problem continues throughout much of the text, and the author offers overlong discussions of Baby's less successful friend Lil Marlo, who was shot and killed in 2020, and the stalled career of one-time teenage phenom Lil Reek. It's also odd that Coscarelli gives short shrift to the massively successful Lil Nas X, who also hails from the city. Lil Baby's gripping story could've carried the narrative, but the author's intellectual bait and switch drags it down. An occasionally enlightening but uneven history of Atlanta's hip-hop scene and influence. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.