Protect the culture, beware of the vultures

Atlanta (Photo by: Joey Kyber | Unsplash.com)
Atlanta (Photo by: Joey Kyber | Unsplash.com)

By Yamileth Jaramillo

Atlanta is accustomed to having company. People come from all over and leave with a touch of this infamous city. We’re just enough “ratchet” for them to be entertained, with just enough gentrification for outsiders to feel comfortable.

However, we’re beyond full.

From the freeways to entertainment, Atlanta has proven to be busier than it has been since the Olympics due to the crowds that have flocked here for Super Bowl LIII. Locals may complain about the traffic, but businesses have been ecstatic for the flow of new people with full pockets to arrive.

Even with events like Super Bowl Live that have showcased Atlanta favorites, we still have seen little initiative from the NFL to include Atlanta artists among their roster of events. It seems that it’s always up to us — ATLiens — to make a way for Atlanta to be heard, or else there would be little to no presence of us.

It’s always been the “Culture vs. Vultures” when it comes to this growing city in the South.

“The resulting failure to leverage this global cultural cachet suggests too many people in high places don’t fully understand, appreciate or respect the value of hip-hop as an economic growth engine,” said Rodney Carmichael, a hip-hop scholar and journalist for National Public Radio. “While local politicos and power brokers look outside the city for world-class inspiration, they often overlook the one thing the rest of the world looks to Atlanta for.”

The issues Carmichael highlighted are not new to Atlanta. So what’s the point of talking about them now?

Well now, more than ever before the world is looking. If ever to be a time to call out the vultures, it is now because people are actually listening to what we have to say!

So what’s a “culture vulture?”

According to Bem Joiner, it’s someone that utilizes a culture for capital gain without adding anything to it nor crediting where it’s from. Someone that runs off with the sauce and claiming that they made it on their own while stealing all the ingredients and recipe from someone else.

We’re used to it in the A. It’s been happening for years! Even before there was a festival culture, there was Freaknik. We’re used to inspiring trends and never getting credit, but what can we do about it now? We can speak on it.
A lot has changed since the early 2000s.

Now, you can find people of all kinds in all parts of Atlanta and that’s the norm.
People proudly claim their side anywhere and it’s cool because it’s become more of an Atlanta vs. the world mentality more than one side versus the other.

Blame it partially on gentrification, but mostly a sign of changing times.

The creative class is the growing middle class of Atlanta and as people flood in from other cities to stake their claim of this city, it’s about time that they give back to it as well. The “free for all” culture in Atlanta that adds to its appeal is the double-edged sword that keeps people from running off with the sauce.

Although Atlanta hosts talent way beyond just trap music, it’s become our staple. Trap Karaoke was created in L.A. to play off of the growing trap influence in mainstream media. Ariana Grande just completely remade 2 Chainz’s iconic Pink Trap House in her music video for “7 Rings.” Atlanta Influences Everything knockoffs have been found on Amazon.

Kanye fooled us all initially when he had Desiigner spit a verse on his The Life of Pablo and had ATLiens everywhere excited to hear Future on the track only to be deeply saddened that it was a soundalike artist. There are so many examples that I could go on for much longer.

Lately, we’ve been talking about the vultures and forgetting which culture we’re referring to.
It’s important to differentiate Hip Hop Culture, Black culture and Atlanta culture although it is extremely hard to do these days.

As True Story Labs founder and music executive James Andrews may not be a culture vulture to Hip Hop for his experience and contributions, he is indeed a vulture to Atlanta for his lack of contributions to this city.

“You’re too Atlanta to be hired,” is something that I’ve been told jokingly as opportunities to report on the city are passed to people that never been in the “A.”

My only point is to remind people to acknowledge the “A” and its attributes.

Our contribution to the culture is only growing. We’re only getting louder and if you want the respect of the city, you probably want to stay on our good side.

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice

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