(Purchase the physical copy of COSIGN Magazine’s Issue 16 featuring Scotty ATL.)
Scotty ATL … And Beyond
By Chris P: Local Celebrity
“This shit gone pay off. It got to pay off. It ain’t got no other muthafuckin’ choice,” Scotty ATL tells his girlfriend toward the tail end of his most recent effort, “The Cooligan.” This attitude, and the subsequent work ethic, has paid off in the form of a slow and steady ascension out of the saturated Atlanta hip-hop scene. Three releases in 2014, two more in 2015 and two songs in radio rotation have been the path to the next level for the Lithonia, GA emcee.
When I spoke to him, he was just over halfway through the 39-city “Kritically Acclaimed Tour,” with headliner Big K.R.I.T. and BJ The Chicago Kid. Based on his friendship with K.R.I.T. and the close proximity of their latest projects’ release dates, Scotty’s said, “I think it was just the timing was right. For what he had going on, for what I had going on, it just made sense.”
Ever the humble dude, Scotty has viewed the tour as an opportunity many are dying to have, with the biggest plus being the ability to interact with his fanbase. “I just put out a project … so now it’s like I can go and not just be on the Internet, but I can kinda hand deliver it to each city.” And even with what would seem to be the most difficult aspect of it all, the constant traveling, he has no complaints. “Yesterday was Thanksgiving and my folks came from Atlanta to Houston. They was in town visiting some more of our family and they was able to come to the concert, we had Thanksgiving together… the guys was able to come over. It still worked out.” Based on a demeanor that reflects the positivity of his words, it seems to have continued to work out. “Every night has been dope, literally every night … we always just have fun and trip out everywhere we go.” He also said that his eyes were set on one date on the tour, outside of his Atlanta homecoming, “I’m looking forward to seeing how the Meridian show gone be, because I know that’s where K.R.I.T.’s from and I’ve never been there before. Should be dope.”
Scotty’s been making moves predating this tour though, and those moves are what have put him in a position to hit the road with K.R.I.T. Late 2014/early 2015, he joined fellow ATL rapper B.o.B’s label, No Genre, and he says, “As far as music business goes, all of it’s just been going up … nothing but power moves.” As for his music, he doesn’t feel that much has changed. “I did kinda tell myself when I got with No Genre that I wanted to make sure that I just stepped my game up. Everything from the delivery, the flow to the content, and everything … I felt like folks were gonna grade my paper on a different level. Now, it’s not like you trying to get in the game, now it’s like you in the game and you playing with the big boys. You might not be one of the big boys yet, but you playing with ‘em. I just wanted to make sure my music was on a certain level.”
Scotty attributes his success thus far to hard work and faith. This is reflected in the regularity with which he drops projects. While there is such a thing as oversaturation, Scotty’s projects are well spaced out, but regular enough that there isn’t anyone asking “Where’s Scotty?” “I think it’s just about timing, it’s about vibe,” he says. “It’s about knowing the temperature, sometimes I feel like it’s just time to go in and just unload records, and now, working with [my manager] TJ [Chapman of TJ’s DJs], I’m just starting to understand when to hold up.” The plan, as executed, was to drop “Bust It Open,” his newest single, at the end of the Atlanta radio run of his previous single, “Cloud IX.” “Being an independent artist, they ain’t gone give but just so many slots. Right now we pushing ‘Bust It Open’ as the single, that’s what the people done chose.”
Regarding “Bust It Open,” it was originally intended by its producer, Blac Elvis (of Beyonce’s “Ego” fame), to be an R&B record. “I helped arrange the track, take this out, put this in, and take out a little beat section, and then took me a little smoke break,” Scotty said. “45 minutes writing it and boom I was done.” And while the song’s been getting spins and burn, he doesn’t set out to make radio songs. “I just make music. If it comes out like this or it comes out like that, then it just does it. It’s funny that people even look at it as a radio record,” he said. “I was thinking like Pimp C, when he put out ‘Let Me See It,’ it was nasty … I just wanted to make a nasty record, and folks just liked it.”
In terms of content, “Bust It Open,” more of a fun song, provides contrast to “The Cooligan,” as the remainder focuses on his own life experiences and those of the people closest to him. As the album progresses, an ongoing dialogue between him and his girlfriend and their deteriorating relationship both exemplify the personal struggles of an aspiring artist. “When it comes to family, relationships, everything, it just makes it all more difficult as you’re becoming more successful. And that’s just something that I’m learning … I just really wanted to show the story and give a picture of what it’s like to be in the rapper’s life, or artist’s life … I just really wanted to paint the picture through a real story,” he said. Through this and other real stories, he looks to set himself apart. “I think a lot of the rap is the same … You look at 2Pac, Biggie, they talked about they life, what they been through, what they were going through, so that’s the type of music I’m trying to put out … Those are some of the greatest rappers that ever lived. Why wouldn’t you want to do that?”
Aside from music, Scotty has been an active member in his community. On “Speed Up” from “The Cooligan,” he says, “I did a lot of shit to help out in my hood, but I know that shit probably wont get mentioned.” And while much of it may fly under the radar, he is committed to giving back. “I used to mentor kids, that was my whole thing. But we do so much for the community to the point where now, it’s outside of just me,” he said. “We got chef Marlo [of the Cool Club] … dedicated to doing monthly events. We all chip in on that.” I witnessed Scotty’s community work myself last A3C with his involvement with “Hashtag Lunchbag ATL,” a feed the needy event in Atlanta. As for credit, “We do so much stuff in the community, and really to be honest, it ain’t that we trippin’ bout getting credit for it. That was really just kind of a play on the track.”
Scotty’s received some impressive COSIGNs from big names, but success means something different to him. “I just want to leave behind a legacy as of one of the guys that helped change the tide of the sound in Atlanta; for this time,” he said. “I feel like we don’t have people that you can look up to no more in Atlanta. The leaders [are] still doing they thing right now, but I feel like at some point, it’s time to have new leaders. And that’s with respect to everybody in Atlanta, but I feel like at some point, somebody gotta step up. I feel like Atlanta need that guy that people can be proud of, and say ‘Hey, I’m from Atlanta, shawty from Atlanta too, he represent it well.’” To his credit, he sounds poised to fill the big shoes of his predecessors.
“I COSIGN the Cool Club. That’s what going on. That’s the wave. I feel like we bring something new, we bring something different; bring something people need to be a part of.”