Another thing that’s interesting about Atlanta is that it’s a real magnet. A lot of the people that define that music aren’t from there; they’re drawn there. Gucci Mane comes from Alabama.Waka Flocka was born in Queens. The amazing producer Lex Luger comes in from Virginia. T-Pain’s from Florida. Even when Lil B launched his own first co-sign post Pack, he goes and hooks up with Soulja Boy. Machine Gun Kelly, from Cleveland, goes to Atlanta and hooks up with Travis Porter. I think one reason why the city has sustained itself so well is that it has welcomed artists from all over the place.
Pitchfork: Yeah, even Ludacris is from Illinois.
KS: Right. There is this industry infrastructure. Maybe it’s because Atlanta is known as a comfortable place to live if you’re African-American and have some money, and people generally enjoy living there. Can it become the Nashville of hip-hop? With Nashville, it’s not even about a Nashville sound anymore. It’s just that if you want to go into country music, that’s where you go. It’s not impossible to imagine that Atlanta can get there.
Somehow, and this is weird to me, the labels are all still in New York, except for Interscope in L.A. But you see these people get contracts. Living here in New York, I got the feeling that the label people were signing Atlanta artists because they had to, but that there wasn’t much enthusiasm for them within the labels. It’s like the history of hip-hop in miniature because that’s how hip-hop used to be treated by the music industry, like: “I guess we’ll sign them because this is what the kids are doing, but we don’t really get it, and we don’t really want to spend more time on this stuff than we have to.” So, for better or for worse, the Atlanta stuff has been pretty grassroots.