Scotty ATL is still getting used to fame. At 28-years-old, he has four mixtapes under his belt and co-signs from DJ Burn One and Dante Ross. “We walk into one of the shows and this girl behind us is talking about me and she doesn’t even know I'm there,” he says. “It’s tight,” he adds as he flashes a wide smile revealing the gold grillz covering his bottom teeth.
Behind the bling, Stussy bucket hat, and large rectangular shades hiding most of his face, Scotty ATL is candid and unreserved about his transition from basketball player to drug dealer to rapper and beyond. Stay tuned because he might just be the rap game’s next motivational speaker. With his mixtape F.A.I.T.H. out now and Complex debting the video for his Trinidad James and Big K.R.I.T. assisted song "Game" tomorrow, we had Scotty swing by the office to talk about bringing drugs to Bible study, how he was forced to built his own fanbase, and how he’s already planning for life after the rap game...
Interview by Lauren Schwartzberg (@laurschwar)
There’s a lot of talk about “New Atlanta.” What’s the New Atlanta sound?
It’s so different and it’s hard to just say one word. The thing I like about the whole New Atlanta was that from the beginning everybody was supporting each other. That’s how it started in my eyes. Before Trinidad blew, me, Trinidad, and RaRa were supporting each other. We was online, I’m tweeting Trinidad mixtape before people even knew about “All Gold Everything.” It wasn’t even about the music at first.
So what’s your place in the scene?
I’m giving people music that I feel like they can relate to. It’s not me rapping about a whole bunch of stuff I don’t got. I’m telling my real story. From where I grew up to where I am right now. I feel like now with so many people trying to be different, me just being myself is different enough. It’s more personal. It’s more vulnerable, more classic.
I remember going to my homeboy's house with drugs on me to the Bible study. He was talking to me like, ‘Man, what do you feel like is the thing holding you back from accomplishing your dreams?” And at the time, I felt like it was that. So, I just stopped.
I feel like I’m the motivation for the streets. When you talk about being motivation for the streets, it’s usually known as drug stuff. But for me, I feel like I give people hope through the music and that’s kind of like my goal. Whether it be inspiring people to not give up or to be cool when you could go off.
I was thinking about it this morning—me telling my own story, which is different from everybody else’s story. The story of the kid that grew up in a single parent home and struggled with confidence issues or being able to dream or just living in this situation where you might not have had the most hope around you. I grew up seeing my mom get in fights with my step dad and telling that side of the story hasn’t been done yet. Everybody is so hung up on, "I sold drugs" or "I spent time in jail" and not telling the regular story of the average person.
What’s your first rap memory?
My first line was like, “My name is Scotty, I know karate/Mess with me and I’ll chop your body.” I started when I was like 14. My homeboy King J was rapping at the time and he was super excited about it, he encouraged me to start rapping. We had a group called South City Clique and our first time we went to the studio, we paid for studio time with this dude named 8ball and we did a song called “Death Faces.” That’s when I was Psycho Scotty.
But you stopped?
I got caught in the streets. I went to Savannah State University to play basketball, but I played for like half a semester. We was terrible, like 0 and 28 and then I just caught selling drugs. I just stopped rapping for probably like five or six years. Like three years ago I started back.
And then you dropped Summer Dreams and started putting on your own shows?
In Atlanta it’s so many people that rap. You got tons of open mics and stuff. I saw this little thing about Smith Soul Bar which is a club in Atlanta, and I reached out to them over the Internet and they gave me an opportunity like, "Yo, come out, bring 30 people to your show. We gone pay you for the show." I brought 50 people. "Next time bring 50 people," I brought 70. "Bring 100," 200 came. I started realizing that they were kind of forcing me to build my own fan base and so I started putting on my own shows, picking the artists, setting up flyers, and everything.
I had this one flashback where I remember seeing the people that I was doing the stuff with. My little brother, my cousins, the people around me, they were all involved in it with me and it was like, "Man, I’m leading them down the wrong way." I always knew in life I was a leader but I felt like I was leading people the wrong way.
How were you able to get out of the streets?
I had a homeboy by the name of Michael Parker, and he used to be into the same stuff I was in. He pretty much started inviting me over to his house and at the time he was having Bible studies. I remember going to his house with drugs on me to the Bible study. He was talking to me like, ‘Man, what do you feel like is the thing holding you back from accomplishing your dreams?” And at the time, I felt like it was that. So, I just stopped.
It was that easy?
Yeah. I had this one flashback where I remember seeing the people that I was doing the stuff with. I feel like I could have been a better influence on them. My little brother, my cousins, the people around me, they were all involved in it with me and it was like, "Man, I’m leading them down the wrong way." I always knew in life I was a leader but I felt like I was leading people the wrong way.
Have those people changed?
Yeah they’ve changed, my mom changed. When I changed my life, everybody around me and my family changed. It was dope to see all of that.
You have a song called “After Rap.” Are you really already planning for life after rap?
Definitely. I have an investment property in Atlanta. We actually started the After Rap campaign about a week or two ago. We got out and talked to the Boys and Girls Clubs. We did Thomasville and Warren Boys and Girls Club. Thomasville is in a real bad neighborhood and Warren is where I used to play basketball. I want to become involved in other areas regarding music. Not just be a rap artist, but help other artists.
But while you’re in it, what’s your next move in the rap game?
I’m working on a new project that will come out before the end of the year. It’ll be a short project, like an EP. I’ve been shooting a lot of visuals, so that’s the next move for this week. Other than that, we got the videos already shot for “Handle Biz” which is another song off F.A.I.T.H., we’re shooting the one with Curtis Williams for “All the Hoes.” I’m letting the visuals keep rolling out at the same time I’m working on the project so it’ll be almost seamless. When the visuals are done it’ll be like, boom, next project.
Bonus: Check out a behind the scenes video for "Game"
Also check out Scotty ATL on Complex TV's First Look below.