For many outside observers, Atlanta has been branded as the capital of Trap Music. The 808s heavy production style has grown beyond I-285 to become the go-to sound of radio programmers around the country.
The success of Trap has brought massive attention to portions of A-Town’s Hip Hop scene, but it has also overshadowed other artists from the city that are creating music that breaks the mold of stereotypical Atlanta rap. One such homegrown performer is Scotty ATL.
“When I first started out a couple years ago, I was frustrated because it felt like people weren’t really paying attention to what else is going on. But now it’s working in my favor,” Scotty tells AllHipHop.com about his style differing from his Trap Music counterparts. “I got an opportunity to change the sound and be a pioneer to usher the new era of what may become how Atlanta music sounds going forward.”
Before Scotty made the leap into Hip Hop as a profession, his mother used Saturday mornings cleaning the house to introduce him to the legendary 2Pac and classics from R&B/Soul giants. The Lithonia, Georgia native would also spend his summers in Arkansas with his father where he discovered Three 6 Mafia and Playa Fly.
His early Hip Hop lessons would go on to include other Southern acts like Playa G, 8Ball & MJG, UGK, and a young Lil Wayne. But it was the national crossover triumph of hometown heroes Big Boi and Andre 3000 that played the most significant role in Scotty’s future in making music.
“That’s when I got hooked. That’s when I felt like, ‘Okay this is something I want to do,’” says Scotty. “When I heard OutKast’s Southernplayalistic that was like the beginning of rap for real for me. Before then I heard of Kilo, Edward J, and people like that in the city.”
Scotty went from a rap listener to a rap creator thanks to his friend King J. The two met playing basketball as teenagers. After hitting the b-ball court, King J would bring Scotty back to his house. J’s mother provided the two budding entertainers meals, and J provided Scotty instrumentals by putting a microphone up to speakers to record tracks.
That makeshift recording studio served as the blueprint for Scotty’s eventual move into self-financing his mixtapes. Unlike Migos with Quality Control Music or Rich Homie Quan with TIG Records, Scotty’s birth in the game came without a well-known local company behind him.
Besides coming out-of-pocket for his musical endeavors, the road to realizing his dreams was also partially blocked by the Trap Music hurdle. Scotty’s career launched during the height of Trap’s emergence, and the casual listener had become trained to admire a particular tone out of Atlanta.
“If you look at the way the music went after OutKast, T.I. brought the Trap music. Jeezy and Gucci Mane made that sh*t big. From there it was like, if you wanna be a big rapper in Atlanta you got to be a trapper. That’s what people knew,” Scotty explains. “I think the OutKasts and the Goodie Mobs got lost in the sauce when you saw Gucci and these guys blowing up so big, so fast.”
As other ATL rappers of his generation embraced the surging musical trend, Scotty decided to keep with the “cool, laid back” mood associated with his area of town. His approach caught the attention of fellow East Side representative B.o.B.
The Grand Hustle performer’s hype man Playboy Tre connected B.o.B to Scotty. A collaboration between the two Dekalb County bred wordsmiths eventually led to Scotty joining B.o.B’s No Genre imprint. Bobby announced his new label line-up on the 2015 project No Genre: The Label.
“By the time I met B.o.B at his Underground Luxury release party it was like, ‘Oh, you’re Scotty. We got to do one for the East Side.’ I thought he was bullsh*tting, giving me the industry talk. But he was dead serious,” says Scotty. “He did the record ‘Nun But A Party’ with me and IAMSU. Then I went on tour with him and Kevin Gates. The rest was history.”
Scotty and B.o.B revived their musical partnership on the track “I’ont Really” off 2015’s Traffic Jamz. The mixtape also features Scotty’s single “Cloud IX” which is getting radio spins on Atlanta’s Hip Hop stations Hot 107.9 and Streetz 94.5.
As his fame continues to grow, Scotty also has to face the new problems that come with being in the public eye. The entire Hustle Gang family was rocked by the murder of Alabama rapper Doe B in 2013. The killing of his “I’ll Never Forget” collaborator and the changing attitudes of some people around him have made Scotty reevaluate his circle.
“I watched close friends, family, and just people around me change. The craziest part is that I understand why they’re acting like that,” Scotty reveals. “People don’t wanna be left behind. People don’t wanna miss out. Sometimes people are jealous. They don’t wanna be jealous, but they don’t know how to turn it off.”
There is an old saying that you will discover it is “lonely at the top.” Public figures from entertainers to CEOs to politicians have expressed the sentiment that reaching the pinnacle of the pyramid can leave you feeling deserted. It has only been four years since Scotty released his breakout mixtape Summer Dreams, but he has already experienced the solitude of stardom.
“In my mind, I always said, ‘It’s not gonna be lonely for me. I’ll have all my n*ggas with me.’ But as you keep going in this sh*t, you start to understand what people mean when they say [it’s lonely at the top],” contends Scotty. “When they say it’s lonely, they mean you have to watch who you can trust, because it feels like you can’t trust nobody.”
Scotty relies on his faith and his talent to maintain going in the right direction – mentally, emotionally, musically and spiritually. He adds, “The only thing that keeps me pushing and positive about it is I know God is going to look out for me. Then I also know the only people that can make it in the industry are the people who can deal with this sh*t. If you can’t deal with the bullsh*t, I don’t give a damn how talented you are, you won’t make it.”
Going by the fact Scotty has YouTube videos topping 50,000 views and co-signs from Killer Mike, 8Ball, Big Gipp, and Big K.R.I.T., it appears Hip Hop followers and performers are pleased by Scotty’s artistic ability. Confidence is one gift Scotty is not lacking either. His goal is to one day be mentioned in the same vein as platinum selling rappers.
“The only option I had was to create music that I felt was going to be better than everybody else’s, put together better, packaged better, the videos would be better,” declares Scotty. “I always saw myself competing with bigger artists like a Jay Z, J. Cole, or Kendrick Lamar. In my mind, that was my competition. That’s been the way I did it from the beginning.”
Scotty ATL is moving forward with his mission of sitting among the greats. He has been logging in a lot of time in the studio in recent months. Another No Genre project with B.o.B. and the rest of the roster is on the horizon. His own brand-new collection is expected to drop by the end of the year as well. According to Scotty, whatever fans get next from him will be an example of his progression as an artist.
“I said, ‘Let me just chill on that for a minute. Let me just get better as an artist.’ I want to perfect my craft,” states Scotty on not rushing to put out more mixtapes. “I feel like whatever I do coming out next – now that I’m linked up with B.o.B and No Genre – I feel like people are going to grade my paper a little harder than they would before.”
Follow Scotty ATL on Twitter @ScottyATL and Instagram @ScottyATL.
Stream/download Scotty ATL’s latest mixtape Traffic Jamz below. Purchase the project on iTunes.