Interview: Scotty ATL Wants To Make Music That’ll Change Lives

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With so many Atlanta rappers flooding the rap world, a new Georgia bulldog could emerge from the A, and leave their footprints planted in the concrete jungle at any time.

Right now, there’s one particular Atlanta rhymeslinger that definitely has the potential to be the next dude to make the dope boys go crazy. So, say hello to Scotty ATL. The former Savannah State University star point guard-turned rapper has been gaining on opps ever since his 2011 Summer Dreams mixtape landed on the national scene as one of SPIN’s Top 50 mixtapes. 

Since then Scotty has released nothing but high powered records, which displays his storytelling skills and on-point flow. Also, he has clearly showcased that he can spit venom alongside hip-hop heavyweights like Big K.R.I.T., B.o.B, Killer Mike, Big Gipp, 8-Ball, Bun B and more

What sets Scotty apart from what’s currently flooding the market?  Well, despite Scotty’s music being rooted in the streets, it doesn’t celebrate selling dope, living off molly, Xan popping or lean sipping. But it’s still gangsta enough to bump in the bando. You know, very reminencent of his fellow Atliens, Dungeon Family.

“I just want to be a legend in the game,” Scotty said to VIBE. “I just always like to try to get better and challenge myself.”

While in New York on the Kritically Acclaimed tour, the 6’3″, gold-grilled rocking Scotty rolled through VIBE’s offices to give us the goods on his on his self-esteem issues, the Big Gipp comparisons, getting love from Killer Mike and much more.

VIBE: Yo, your music is so street but very motivational.
Scotty ATL: Music is my therapy.  Whether I’m going through something good or bad I want to record it. So that’s really my inspiration.

You’re still on the come-up but you’ve gained a lot of ground since Summer Dreams. Who are some artists that showed you love early on?
Man, Killer Mike for sure. Killer Mike was one of the first people in Atlanta that just really was like: ‘Yo, I’m fucking with you.’ He brought me out to the shows, showed up for the video, talked about me to other people when I wasn’t around. Definitely B.o.B., too, you know that’s the label I’m on, No Genre. And the homie, Big Gipp.

You kind of have the swag of a Bigg Gipp.
Killer Mike told me that I remind him of that Dungeon Family vibe. When I did a joint with Big Gipp, I can’t remember how me and Gipp linked up, but we did a song together a long time ago, but we just never really clicked up. Then, I met Rico Wade. So we kicking it, he listening to the music and he’s telling him how much he love “Cloud IX”, and they all just kept telling me the same thing: ‘You remind me of what we was doing. We need you to continue that.’

On some of your earlier mixtapes, you talked about having self-esteem issues. How are things with that now?
It’s way better. On some real shit; to get to this level I had to just re-program myself. As a male there are certain things you supposed to get from your father, and it’s certain things you supposed to get from your mother. With my dad not being in the picture, I got a lot of stuff from the streets. I filled that void with different things whether it was smoking, drinking alcohol, or dealing with different women or just being in the streets. But now, I read books everyday. I’m not just reading them just to say that I’m reading them, but I’m really doing this shit to become a better person, to change my mindset and the way that I think.

Yeah, one of things that drew me to you is your honesty about your lack of confidence.
Word. That’s real shit. I literally have to put myself through that shit because I may not make it to where I want to go if I didn’t believe in myself and I wasn’t really confident. I didn’t want to make it and have them issues. Because you can’t look for money and fame to give you those things that you should already have as a person.

Speaking of books. On “Welcome to the Cooligan” you said: “I ain’t gon’lie/I read books in the morning…”
Yeah, that’s real. I really do that.

What are you reading?
Right now I’m reading this book by Joel Osteen, I Declare: 31 Promises To Speak Over Your life, I read Contagious: Why Things Catch On (By Jonah Berger). That’s the book that Nipsey Hussle read to get the idea to sell his mixtapes for $100. The Greatest Secret by Ron Hubbard. I be on them books, bruh.

Was there something that happened that made you say, “Fuck it” and go full throttle with this rap shit?
When I linked with DJ Burn One back in 2011,  this was the last straw for me. I was working a little job, I had stopped rapping for a minute and I was like, ‘Shit, if this don’t work, I’m out.’ We did it and it ended up being in the top 50 mixtapes in SPIN Magazine. I think Cyhi The Prynce was the only feature on there that people knew. We put it out and people loved it.

So, I started doing concerts, shows and just building up the fanbase. At that time, I was performing with the live band, which was DJ Burn One and his producers. And that’s when I really started taking this thing serious.

You’ve put out a few projects since then. Have you learned anything new about yourself while recording The Cooligan?
I just took my time with this. Instead of working toward it, I just did a song a day for like three or four months and tried to become a better artist. And this one really showed me about pushing myself. I was done with the whole shit, but I sat down with DJ Scream, and he was like, ‘Nah man, keep recording until this muthafucka’ about to come out.’

You’ve worked with some credible names early in your career. Who else are you looking to work with? 
I want to work with Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, and I want to work with Drake, too. And not just because of their status but creatively they’re dope. They use the same kind of approach and method when it comes to being honest on the track. And, I want to work with Erykah Badu. She hard as fuck.

Based on the content of your music, is there anything missing from the game that you’d like to see added? 
Exactly what I’m brining to the table. I think people forget that there was a time when Tupac made “Keep Ya Head Up” and it was the biggest hit on the radio. People feel like, “That’s old. That’s what it used to be like.” But to me, if you make good music, you make good music. There should be no reason why the same types of records that make people feel back then can’t do it now. And I just want to change the wave.

What’s surprised you the most about this industry?
Seeing the amount of work that goes into this. You grind so long thinking you gon’ get on and get to a place where you can kick back and chill and when you get to a place to where people can recognize you you got to work twice as hard.

How do you handle it?
I don’t know. It’s really no blueprint. I’m just learning everyday. Sometimes I’ll call Gipp or Cory Mo, and talk to them. Other than that, I just pray and believe that I’m on the right path.