Compared to the dizzying ad-libs and slack-jawed Auto-Tune of auteurs Migos, Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan on “New Atlanta,” Ludacris’ flow on the original “Welcome to Atlanta” lands even more dated, and almost dull. Luda was a Most Likely To Succeed export for the city, boasting sharp-caesared good looks, a raunchy, cartoonish sense of humor in line with the Austin Powers and BET Uncuts of the era, and a conversational, ambidextrous flow that you could spread over any sound. Linking with Jermaine Dupri for the audio equivalent of a tourist brochure made perfect sense: Dupri was a tried-and-true record man, an expert at primping, packaging and selling to the center. It was a regional anthem designed to be a hit everywhere else.
Thirteen years later, Migos and their unruly class of cohorts have broken all the rules JD and Luda didn’t realize they’d written. Due out on Migos upcoming No Label 2 reissue, “New Atlanta” isn’t a welcoming, it’s a warning: Don’t get yo bitch ass killed in new Atlanta baby. Their tumbling flows, lean-pink productions, staggering rate of output and stylistic inventiveness demand immersion and fluency. Ludacris songs make sense on Top 40 radio, but Migos—not so much. It’s as if they make music just to play in their own blunted-out bandos, and could care less about the tastes and customs of the next block, let alone the next state. It’s an exciting moment: a city fully comfortable in its own skin and sound, and all the better for it. The East Coast would do well to take note.