Drive around Atlanta and keep an eye out for the billboards. You’ll see Quality Control, Gucci Mane, Future. You’ll see trap. After all, commercially, Atlanta is trap. 

Now, turn around and drive a little outside the city. Maybe you won’t see any billboard advertisements for it, but inside some of those houses, there are kids changing the Atlanta rap landscape. Sitting at desks with nothing but a laptop and some headphones, they’re cut from the same cloth as the likes of Awful Records, JID, and EarthGang, keeping Atlanta in a constant state of evolution. Bubbling just under the surface of mainstream consciousness, these young creators make up a promising new generation of alternative artists, collectively representing Atlanta’s “left hand.” 

Working out of bedroom studios and honing their talents on a rich performance circuit, this scene is approaching a turning point. As part of the latest shift in Atlanta’s ever-mutating sound, everyone knows that something is about to happen, but no one is sure just what. The music is there, the creativity is there, and the groundwork of both fan and industry support has been laid, but the future remains equal parts bright and unpredictable. 

Coming from the same city that strong-armed “U Guessed It” and “Tuesday” into the Top 100, there’s no doubt that Atlanta’s next generation is creating something special. For now, it’s just a matter of time. Meet some of the main catalysts below. These artists, along with many others, are the basis of a changing Atlanta.