RIP Takeoff, Mableton cityhood and other news
Red Clay News - November 2st, 2022
Welcome to my freemium newsletter by me, King Williams. A documentary filmmaker, journalist, podcast host, and author based in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a newsletter covering the hidden connections of Atlanta to everything else. Happy Birthday to my brother!
RIP Takeoff, member of the Migos
TMZ is reporting that Takeoff, born Kirshnik Khari Ball, 1/3rd of the Grammy-nominated Atlanta rap group Migos was shot and killed in Houston early yesterday morning. The details are still developing but according to early reports, the shooting happened as a result of a dice game. Takeoff was known for his lyrical prowess, often being cited as the best lyricist of the group. Takeoff was also seen as a relatively unprovoking rapper, mostly remaining outside of conflict for his career.
Takeoff is the latest rapper to die to violence this year. Over a dozen rappers have been killed this year including fellow Atlanta rappers, Trouble who was killed in Conyers while visiting a woman, and Archie Eversole who was killed by his brother. Takeoff’s mourning has been vocal online as several Atlanta artists as well as Atlanta-based pro wrestling superstar Ric Flair (Ric Flair Drip is a Migos-adjacent song) expressed their condolences.
2. The Migos impact
All three members of the Migos are relatives. The trio was raised in Lawrenceville, a community 30 minutes outside the city of Atlanta. Takeoff was the uncle of Quavo, who is the cousin of Offset (who’s married to Cardi B). The trio was raised by the mother of Quavo. Takeoff was credited with getting Quavo to rap as an alternative to troubles. The group since its national arrival in 2013 has been a lynchpin in defining the then-new era of Atlanta rap music.
Versace and a cultural reset
Migos’ breakout single ‘Versace’ in 2013, became a source of amazement and ire. For some hip-hop purists the repetitive use of Versace in the song, the basic trap-styled beat, and its triplet flow became a Rorschach test on whether or not the song was ‘real hip hop’. Migos became an early version of generational divides regarding rap music that would define the 2010s. The song was even divided among Atlantans, at the time.
But the song’s bubbling hype was quickly picked up on by then-reigning champion of rap music features, Drake, who uploaded a remix to his SoundCloud. Drake’s SoundCloud, at the time, operated as a global tastemaker for songs/artists to watch. Migos went from a bubbling Atlanta-area rap trio to overnight music success stories. But unlike some Drake-contributed songs/artists, Migos maintained an output of singles, videos, and albums that allowed them to separate themselves from the need for a Drake assist. So much so that by 2015, the group had its own self-sustaining rap career. And by 2018, Migos were co-headling a national arena tour with Drake that eventually took home $79 million dollars, becoming the highest-grossing pure hip-hop tour of the year.
Migos ushered in a ‘new Atlanta’
Migos arrived in the Atlanta hip-hop scene already in reinvention, the stalwarts of the last era of hip-hop were starting to fade nationally. While some of the leaders of that era of Atlanta rap began to fizzle out locally, which also meant fizzling out nationally.
The era of 2013-16 saw the rise of Migos alongside Atlanta-rappers Future and Young Thug became bonafide household names in music and pop culture. By late 2016 Migos were featured in Donald Glover’s debut season of his tv series ‘Atlanta’, and had released an emerging single ‘Bad and Bougie’ that would become a national phenomenon by 2017. As well as arguably one of the defining songs of their career.
‘Norfside’ and the changing respectability politics of metro Atlanta
The Gwinnett County trio based out of Lawrenceville is partially responsible for opening up the cultural boundaries of Atlanta’s hip-hop scene by moving outside of the confines of I-285. Their open embrace of being from Gwinnett, a county prior to the local and national arrival of the group was seen but not heard in the Atlanta hip-hop discourse. Gwinnett for decades has had a substantial portion of Black residents, but when it came to hip hop and tangentially, Black Atlanta culture, Migos made being Black and from Gwinnett finally acceptable, then after the trio’s consistent successes, unquestionable.
3. ‘The Migos flow’
The trio rapped in a triplet flow that engulfed hip-hop and later pop music. The triplet flow has become known as ‘the Migos flow’, a style of rapping that requires a triple-time performance. It’s a style of rap that pays homage to the 90s Memphis hip-hop scene, the midwestern speed rap of acts like Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Twista. And of course, Outkast, who often has alternated between both Big Boi and Andre 3000 periodically using triplet flow.
The triplet flow requires a different skillset
The vocal performance requires more spacing between the beats allowing for more words to fit in, often on songs with higher beats per minute. Most radio singles use a 4-4 measure, while Migos use of triplets often eschews these pop fundamentals, making every Migos song immediately identifiable regardless of the production.
Rappers have used triplets for decades but never as a defining feature. Migos made a career out of it, Takeoff managed to be one of the best to ever use the flow. His contributions to Atlanta’s rap scene and hip-hop at large are unquestionable. Takeoff recently had begun to operate with more prominence as part of a duo with Quavo.
Rappers dying too young
Takeoff is one of the more recent high-profile rappers to die of gun violence over the last three years. During that time several others including Pop Smoke, Young Dolph, PNB Rock, XXXTentacion, Nipsey Hussle, King Von, Drakeo the Ruler, and Atlanta’s own Bankroll Fresh have been victims of gun violence. The long history of rapper murders within hip-hop still has lingering effects. In nearly all of these incidents, it has been intraracial violence. While another family is missing a valued member in their hearts. RIP Takeoff.
Red Clay News
1. Mableton is still considering cityhood
Mableton is currently the last city this year to consider cityhood. The area includes all of the Six Flags over Georgia theme park, the Mablehouse Barnes Amphitheater, and a large section of unincorporated southwest Cobb County.
Could Mableton be the only cityhood effort to make it in 2022?
Mableton is one of the few Black cityhood efforts to reach this level, as only Stonecrest in DeKalb and South Fulton has made it that far. Both cityhood efforts have been in response to white-led cityhood efforts primarily in north Fulton county over the last 17 years, since Sandy Springs's controversial cityhood efforts in 2005.
From my February newsletter: The 4 Cobb cityhood initiatives
Cityhood is the next front in a new culture war, one that sees the cultural construction of ‘crime’ and city service as an exit ramp to self-segregation once more. Aided by a shrinking population of white residents statewide and an increase in more Democrat supporting voters, this is a hedge against a future that doesn’t look or vote in the interest of Georgia’s dominant class. It means in plain terms, Cobb County will now have to contend with less money and ability to implement countywide changes—unless it’s voting. Cobb becoming majority-minority means that the county will wrestle with continual culture changes as a staunchly conservative base is dwindling in numbers is reshuffling its power, by taking the ball and going home.
This mostly Black, heavily democrat-supporting section of Cobb County is considering becoming its own city inspired by the first half efforts of cityhood by Cobb. All three of those Cobb efforts and the larger Buckhead secession efforts were led by White, republican-supporting organizers. All three Cobb cityhood efforts failed, while the Buckhead secession effort was pushed off by the outgoing Lt. Governor. Voters have until next Tuesday, November 8th to decide. Voters should make sure that their ballots include the question as some early ballots did not.
2. Zaxby’s is looking for an Atlanta headquarters
Zaxby’s the Statesboro-based fast food chain is looking to open a new headquarters in Atlanta. The move comes as the company is expanding its footprint and will likely eventually need to hire more senior management and veteran corporate personnel. The move also echoes the private investment from Goldman Sachs two years ago into the brand. A move to Atlanta is a much easier sell for non-Georgia residents plus gives the company a broader talent pool within the metro.
Other Red Clay News:
Daddy’s Chicken Shack is coming to metro Atlanta with 10 stores.
Atlanta City Council has approved downtown street resurfacing.
Local music industry advocates are calling for richer tax incentives.
A Dalton business owner has been sentenced to two months in prison after being found to dump 100 drums of hazardous chemicals.
Floyd County is rezoning Enterprise Corner.
Flowery Branch is adding a grants administrator to aid in economic development in the area.
Savannah is considering removing a statue of a pro-slavery advocate.
Regional gas chain Wawa is coming to Georgia in 2024.
Savannah’s first major film production studio has broken ground.
Kennesaw State’s music biz program receives a high ranking.
Georgia’s right-to-privacy law is being used to counter the new abortion law.
Chick-fil-A is testing wings.
The US Department of Energy is granting $178 million to an Augusta-based company to speed up the electric vehicle pipeline within the state.
Georgia Power has agreed to settle with one business partner for $76 million related to cost overruns at the long-delayed Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro.
The state has been off to a rocky start on its $350 payments to Georgians.
A new ballot referendum is being proposed to sell alcohol on Sunday mornings.
The Elliot Street Pub has closed, its new owner is Cam Newton.
Clarkston is working to create a new development authority.
Dekalb County property tax’s second installment deadline is 11/15.
CHOA will be opening a new children’s mental health facility.
MARTA has announced Collie Greenwood as the new CEO.
MARTA is seeking input on the Candler Road transit project.
Violence is so unnecessary and there needs to be a bigger effort to keep guns at home.