November 1, 2005

I grew up in the city watching two different scenes
Cause what’s on TV and what’s on the streets was two different things

Lil’ Weavah - “Street Talk”

Unlike New York, Atlanta did not cut its hip-hop teeth on neighborhood block parties, rather the Dirty South scene was conceived in the clubs. Thus Ludacris, when mentioning his hometown, is usually hopping from night-spot to night-spot, like he does with Jermaine Dupri in “Welcome to Atlanta.” Lil’ Jon and the Ying Yang Twins bring the crunk attitude of the streets, but take it out of that context and place it in an amorphous, pan-Atlanta (or even pan-America) club. You may have facile shouts of ‘A-Town,’ and while it’s nice to “Rep Yo City,” we are given a partial picture of what it means to call Atlanta home. This doesn’t degrade the music of either artist, nor is it always true (see Lil’ Jon’s “Stop Fuckin Wit Me”), but it does leave a void—as Ying Yang’s Kaine has said, “Everybody don’t club all they life ‘cos shit, you gotta get it.” The audible voices of Atlanta may begin to reflect the less exuberant life of the city. Both enjoying very public come ups, T.I. and Young Jeezy are a couple ATLiens who are on the grind and aren’t quiet about it. Lil’ Weavah, a self-proclaimed “southern lyricist” who may be even more civic-minded than his predecessors, might well follow suit.

The story behind Lil’ Weavah is laid out on the “King Shit” freestyle from his latest official mixtape, Lil’ Weavah: The Streets Mixtape, Volume 2. Lil’ Weavah is two years removed from the drug game. Recorded his self-released album Home Team, which was a local hit in Atlanta. Now he’s on every underground mixtape in town, on magazine covers, and a target of major labels. Chalk it all up to street buzz. If you missed the coronation, know that there is a new Underground King of Atlanta.

On “Street Talk,” the king leads us on a tour of his holdings. He’s from ‘round Greenbriar, southwest A-Town, visit sometime: “See right over there? We used to rap right there / See right over there? We used to trap over there.” Do we have another purveyor of Trap Muzik on our hands? Weavah does, after all, go on to claim to have the biggest record since “Rubberband Man.” But unlike T.I, who sometimes borders on malevolence when celebrating the crack game, Weavah’s simply reporting. “’I hear Weavah ain’t no gangsta’ / Nah I just keep it real shawty.” Honesty is Weavah’s policy, and it’s a major part of his appeal.

How real does Lil’ Weavah keep it? Take these lines from the meta-freestyle of “Po It Up,”” where Lil’ Weavah explains his process: “And if I mess up, I chill and rest up / Come back and tell y’all I messed up.” It’s disarmingly candid. Weavah continues to lay it all out on “Hollywood,”” the stand out from The Streets Mixtape, Vol. 1, which has him singing the chorus, “Fuck Hollywood, I’ma stay right here in the hood.” That cliché-emcee sentiment is often hollow, but Weavah allows it to put his underground success in Atlanta into a more self-effacing and self-deprecating perspective:

I guess the rap shit is making me famous, but no applause,
The other day I’m up in Kroger using my food stamp card,
Heard some nigga say, Weav, I see you on TV,
And just the other day at the mall got your CD,
So he walked up and said can I get my autograph,
Hell nah, don’t you still sell green? I need a half.

The supermarket gadfly retorts by hating on Weavah’s ride, a Buick Le Sabre that “makes a squeaky noise when you ride it.” Food stamps, shitty ride—Lil’ Weavah lays bare the motivations for his paper chase. Comedic and nonchalant, Weavah’s just hit you up for some buddy-talk, and you wouldn’t believe this kid at the store. His allegiance to the streets isn’t just a ploy for credibility; it’s an attempt to relate, and Weavah wields the requisite charisma.

Lil’ Weavah has a down-to-earth swagger not entirely unlike David Banner. Banner has made no secret of his humble beginnings—he lived out of a van while recording his first album—and his mindfulness of them has informed some of the most poignant and, importantly, accessible political statements in rap of recent years. Lil’ Weavah, who’s filtering his earnings from both the trap and rap games towards his college tuition, who claims if he weren’t rapping he’d be in politics, has potential to do the same. If it’s fulfilled, Atlanta hip-hop has found a worthy streets spokesman and a perfect compliment to its dazzling heroes of the club. The consolation prize: a considerable talent makes his hood proud.

[buy stuff here/here]

Bob Hammond | 8:00 am

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