Don't call it a comeback! The "vs. Everybody" series has been here for, like, three weeks, or so. After taking last week off to slip into a holiday food coma, I'm picking up where I left off by turning my attention to the South. That's right, it's time to pick your fantasy roster for "Atlanta vs. Everybody."
First, for those who are new, or regulars who had their memory erased in a tryptophan overdose, let's go over the rules again real quick. For those who really want the fine print, the ridiculously detailed rules are here.
- Hey, "Detroit vs. Everybody." That was cool. What if we picked out a roster for every city? [Note: We already did LA and NYC.]
- You get to pick four rappers to rep the city, plus one hype man who doesn't rap a verse but can yell stuff throughout the track (aka the DH).
- You're not necessarily looking for the "best" rapper, but you're not necessarily looking for a battle rapper either. You're looking for someone who's so aggressively, shockingly dope other cities would be scared to go against them. Hence the "vs."
- They have to be alive, and you're getting them as they are now. (ex. You'd be getting Animal Ambition 50 Cent, not Get Rich or Die Trying 50 Cent.)
Got it? Good. Now let's move onto the specifics.
I'm particularly interested in seeing what I (and yes, everyone else) comes up with for Atlanta, primarily because as much as things have changed, it still really does have a "dudes from the South can't rappity rap" stigma. Speaking of which, as much as I try to aim for diversity and range in these rosters, it's going to be hard to pick any of the new wave (aka Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, etc.). I've grown to appreciate them in select situations, this just isn't one of those situations. Throwing Thugga into a more aggressive battle rap cypher atmosphere would end up in just a whole lot of confused silence. But enough talk, let's get to the picks.
So Who's on Atlanta vs. Everybody?
Waka Flocka (DH): This one was surprisingly hard. My first instinct was to go with T.I. here because he's an absolutely extraordinary and tragically underrated shit talker. In fact, I'd say it's a dead heat between him and Diddy for the GMSTROAT (Greatest Monologue Shit Talking Ranter of All-Time) spot. But I need TIP on one of the verses, and it'd be a waste to put him here.
So my second move was to go in the other direction and pull someone like OG Maco. It would be kind of dope to open the track with just some straight up "BITCH YOU GUESSED IT!!!" type yelling. Atlanta's not exactly about subtlety, who better to set the stage? But while I like the fact that Maco's young, he's too young and unproven. So boom then, the perfect middle ground is Waka.
Atlanta's not going to win this (imaginary) global rap battle by trying to out super-lyrical-miracle rap the competition. It's going to win by being aggressive and intimidating, and I think letting Waka just spaz the fuck out on the intro "Hard in the Paint" style really sends the message that ATL's here and they can't be ignored. I'm not letting Fonzie anywhere near a verse, but this is exactly why Sweet Baby Jesus put him on this Earth.
T.I.: Just like Kendrick was the automatic, don't even have to think about it pick for L.A., T.I.'s still the automatic pick for Atlanta. Like a Snoop for L.A., no one embodies Atlanta more than TIP, but unlike Snoop he's managed to stay just as hungry as ever. In other words, dude can still fucking rap. Plus, there's the extra "he seriously might just go pop the trunk" intimidation factor.
Do I really need to say anything else? Clifford Harris the undisputed number one draft pick here.
Killer Mike: Does any rapper on this planet really want a piece of Killer Mike right now? Anybody? Any takers? That's what I thought.
Mike is so Atlanta his DNA is comprised entirely of A's and at this point his credentials are unfukwitable. More importantly though, with the renewed energy he seems to have around Run the Jewels, he's never been rapping better. Man, a Killer Mike at the peak of his skill? You're telling me I can get an insane ad lib like this and then an aggressive AND almost deceptively lyrical verse like this? I'm legit putting Mike up against any rapper alive right now - he's got at least a puncher's chance of (figuratively) knocking out any emcee alive right now.
Big Boi: Now we're getting down to some tougher picks. I felt like I almost automatically had to include Big Boi here, but I wanted to question myself. Really? You've only got four slots, and you're giving one of them to Big Boi? Really?
So I thought about it and yeah, I am, and I'm pretty fucking confident about my pick. First, there needs to be some Outkast representation here, and I think it'd rather have Big Boi than Andre in this specific case. Who knows if Andre would even get on this track, he's probably be too busy picking out a Viking costume for his new Gillette commercial. I need someone dependable, someone I'm absolutely confident will show up and drop an absolutely devastating verse, and Big Boi's more than earned that confidence. Pair his innate rap skills with his OG status and Big Boi's going to fuck some shit up. Basically I'm telling him to give me some "General Patton" type shit.
[Side Note: I just realized that I unconsciously recreated the line-up to "Big Beast" and "In the A," only I'm not taking Ludacris because that dude's fallen off like Busta Rhymes headbanging. I swear it wasn't intentional, but now that I realize it, I can see why my brain steered me in that direction. Those songs have gotten crazy burn in my headphones for a couple years now, and it absolutely embodies raw, lyrical, hardcore Atlanta rap. You could essentially just add Big Boi to "Big Beast," or replace Ludacris with Killer Mike on "In the A," and I'd be absolutely ready to call that "Atlanta vs. Everybody."]
Andre 3000: Now you know I'm thinking through these rosters in real time. Just a couple paragraphs ago I was saying that I'd take Big Boi over 3 Stacks, and here I am changing my mind. Fuck you if that's a problem, it's my mind, I get to do what I want with it.
This was the hardest pick, the last one always is. Part of me really wants to get some young blood in here; it could be dope to get someone like Rittz in here to really change things up, both in terms of race/age and rap style. And there's another part of me that wants to really just go the unexpected route and get Lecrae in there, really keep people on their toes. But ultimately, when I really thought about it, I just couldn't pass up Andre. Yes, he's not exactly reliable, but his upside is just too fucking amazingly high to pass on. What is Andre closed out this song with something like "Sorry"?
If we really play this "vs. Everybody" scenario out, let's put this roster up against the one I picked for L.A. If anyone's going to take out Kendrick Lamar, beat K. Dot at his own crazy off-kilter lyricism game, it's going to be 3 Stacks. PLUS IT WOULD BE THE FIRST "OUTKAST" TRACK IN YEARS!!! That's history right there. Yeah, I'm sold, Andre's the pick here.
Looking back at this roster, I do feel a little bad that it's skewed so relatively old school. These picks seems so obvious to me it makes me feel like they're kind of lazy, like I didn't really put the time into thinking beyond some of the bigger names. But really though, I don't know who I'm taking off this roster. As always, I'll be interested in seeing who DJBooth Nation goes with, but right now I feel pretty damn good about these picks. I'd go to war with this roster, and probably emerge victorious. Now I don't never want to hear nobody else say goddamn a rapper from the South can't 'rhyme.
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. His Twitter is @RefinedHype.]