The music video for “Welcome to Atlanta,” the second track off his 2001 album, Instructions, tells the story of Dupri’s career: partying at Cheshire Bridge’s Club 112 with Ludacris, Lil Jon, Lil’ Bow Wow, Usher, T.I., Da Brat, and Monica (with cameos by Dominique Wilkins and Evander Holyfield). It’s a Who’s Who of the Atlanta hip-hop and R&B scene of the last fifteen years, and Dupri produced it. At fourteen, the precocious son of a band manager produced the group Silk Tymes Leather. At nineteen, he founded the So So Def recording label, shortly after an Atlanta preteen duo called Kris Kross—whom he discovered, polished, and wrote songs for—sold 7 million records. From there, he produced mega-acts TLC, Mariah Carey, and Usher. In 2010 the Grammy winner recorded the mixtape I Think I’m Berry Gordy. Earlier this year, Dupri launched Global 14, a social networking site, calling it the “coolest, hippest city on the Internet.”
I’m still relatively new to town, not a Braves fan. But I’ve followed baseball most of my life, and I’ve gotta say that some Braves fans seem to have an inflated sense of their own suffering. You’ve had, what, two losing seasons in the past twenty-three? Fifteen division championships? Five pennants? C’mon!
You have to go back almost ten years before December 9, 1938, to get to the beginning of this story. Ed Rivers was an up-and-coming politician then, serving as a state senator from Lakeland. It would be another eight years before Rivers would be elected governor, but he was trying to make a name for himself statewide, trying to lay a foundation.
Who says there are no second acts in American lives? Yes, Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels harbored the fighting, torturing, and execution of underperforming pit bulls. And yes, Vick participated in the killing of six to eight dogs, some by drowning, hanging, or electrocuting. And yes, he served most of a twenty-three-month prison sentence. But remember: The man knows his way around a gridiron. In February, after a stellar season with the Eagles, he was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year. A month later, he signed a one-year contract with the team, estimated to bring in around $20 million. That’s a lot of doggie biscuits.
Whether you flock to Fandango to purchase advance tickets for the latest Madea movie or chortled along with last year’s lacerating parody on Adult Swim’s The Boondocks, one thing is certain: Atlanta filmmaker Perry is the only major Hollywood player dedicated to cranking out hits from his adopted hometown. Only five years after shooting his first film (for one scene, he took a chain saw to a couch inside his own house), he was directing Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg and Grammy winner Janet Jackson in last year’s film adaptation of playwright Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf—partially shot at his sprawling thirty-acre Tyler Perry Studios in southwest Atlanta. At the TPS grand-opening party in 2008, Perry surprised mentors Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, and Cicely Tyson by dedicating soundstages in their honor as Will Smith beamed and Oprah Winfrey cried her eyelashes off. An awed Tyson said, “I never dreamed I would witness this in my lifetime. What I’ve achieved in my career is minuscule in comparison to this.”