The Madeleine Brand Show for May 31, 2012

Atlanta's hip-hop scene through the eyes of female MC StaHHr

Stahhr

Nick Burnz (Black Algebra)

StaHHr is an up and coming female rapper from Atlanta, GA.

Cee-Lo Green. Andre 3000. Ludacris. Just a few of the rap superstars who started their hip-hop careers in Atlanta.

The city's rap scene continues to support home-grown talent. Including an artist who calls herself "StaHHr". The double H stands for "hip hop." StaHHr flaunts those letters like stripes she's earned after nearly two decades on Atlanta's rap music scene.

Reporter Christopher Johnson recently visited Atlanta, and Stahhr took him on a tour of the city AND her new album "Mother Nature With a Molotov: Molotov Season."



Before we embark on our mission, StaHHr and I must have beats. She hops in the driver's seat with her album on a thumb drive. Now if we can just figure out how to get this rental car stereo to cooperate.

We get the sound system working and head out on our adventure.

StaHHr is about to make my day. I've got a serious itch to peep the real Hotlanta. 130-plus square miles of baller mini mansions, historically black colleges, and chic hippie hoods. I needed a guide.

And a soundtrack. Pushing the key into the ignition, pushing the bass and volume buttons to just the right knock levels, StaHHr has me covered.

"We are listening to 'Mother Nature With Molotov: Molotov Season,' my 2nd album," said StaHHr. "Listening to "Crown" right now. This is like a circle of champions type of song, an uplifting mantra"

It's a bright, clear day in the ATL, perfect for a sightseeing mission. StaHHr is juiced to show off her music, and her town.

"So this is the historic West End, one of the areas they are gentrifying. This is the West End Park, where they do the Malc X Festival. Brother Hakeem over there doing Tai Chi. One of our elders," she said.

The 30-something StaHHr isn't quite an elder yet. But in Atlanta's tight, homegrown hip-hop galaxy, she is absolutely a vet.

"I've been on this scene since '92, so I helped pave the way," said StaHHr. "I came up here, this is where I started rhyming. Even though I was born in Memphis, this is the home of StaHHr."

We've been swerving through the city for a minute, and as rush hour descends on us, it's clear that Stahhr's fellow ATLiens are plucking her last nerve.

"They've never driven in a place where there's actual traffic, so everyone tries to be gangster!" said StaHHr.

Like a hummingbird, StaHHr flits from opinion to opinion in a breathless stream of consciousness. City traffic, the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta, and the pitfalls of being branded a "female MC."

"I am a woman, you can't deny that. I've got all the parts!" said StaHHr. "I think being a woman is one of the greatest things ever. I also don't want to be judged in segregated manner, when I'm up to par with any MC regardless of their gender."

As StaHHr makes a left towards the West End, she peeps me in the passenger seat, nodding hard as she rips it on the track "Tap In."

"And there's a sexy plus size boutique, Smoochies!  See? they got something from everybody in East Atlanta - you got a mortuary right here, a fire department, Smoochies, a library! You can't lose." said StaHHr.

Next stop: Kirkwood. Technically, that's the city of Decatur. As we ride StaHHr gives me a live concert over her posse cut "In It Never Of It."

"OK, now. How did THIS happen? We're right back where we started." said StaHHr

MCs, take warning: if you're gonna play tour guide and get high off your own music at the same time, have a map close by.

But I can't be mad about the detour. But we have to wrap this thing up. StaHHr's got work to do. She holds down a bunch of jobs: making and selling hats, substitute teaching, raising her son, and building her indy rap career.

I ask her, with all that juggling, does she ever want to just hang up her mic for good?

"I think about that all the time, and then when I get over it, I go right back to the music!" said StaHHr. "I didn't start rhyming because I wanted to be part of the industry, I started because it's a gift. I have to do it."

StaHHr''s new album is "Mother Nature With A Molotov: Molotov Season." And speaking of juggling: StaHHr also handles all her own merchandising. So if you want a copy, hit her up. She might throw in a T-shirt or a crisp new crocheted hat.

All made in the ATL.


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