In 1998, you could get a Victorian with peeling paint and a bad porch in Atlanta, Georgia’s historic Grant Park neighborhood for under a hundred grand, put in another 30 and flip it for big profit with little actual labor—a trend just beginning to take hold over the entire country at the time. Outkast’s was brand new and Atlanta felt like America’s next great city. People were moving there from everywhere, drawn to its slack pace, pervasive youth and boundless energy. A dozen years later, the median home price in Grant Park had multiplied by five, and the music in the A reflected the irrational exuberance about to crest, a steady wave of euphoric, capitalist anthems dominating the pop system. But then the sky fell, and home prices with it, and suddenly it didn’t feel all that pragmatic to wear a chain worth as much as a house, much less rap about it. Enter Pill’s 4180: The Prescription mixtape—slapped on the status quo like a foreclosure notice, putting a heavy lien on real talk with its breakout song, “Trap Goin’ Ham,” and an accompanying video depicting people who had clearly not enjoyed the spoils of Atlanta’s real estate or cultural booms.
Pill will be the first to tell you, however, that “Trap Goin’ Ham” was not the dawn of a new age of rational thinking, nor is he leading an army of enraged citizen rappers. Dude is a vigilante. He’s as candid in his love for 8ball & MJG’s raw street anthems or Tupac’s self-conscious G, as he is appreciative of Gucci Mane’s skillful ice flow, and bridges it all with a cavernous rasp and an intellectual bent. “Most of the people coming out today it’s like, ‘My chain, my chain,’ but ain’t got shit else to talk about,” he says. “If I’m saying ‘my chain,’ I’m going to reference being in chains. I’m going to explore that word instead of just talking about my diamonds. That’s cool, it jams, but at the end of the day, how long does that shit last?” Pill isn’t angry, though, just impatient. He’s as Atlanta as Big Boi, Three Stacks or Gucci, but he’s a realist, and his next mixtape, 4175: The Refill, and the debut LP he’s ready to deliver as soon as a label is ready to, do not contain a single second of escapism. On “Run Up To Me,” one of the original songs on 4175, Pill rips into a plain, springy beat like it owes him money (this is invariably what he sounds like). My stomach can’t keep on growling, I can’t keep on window shopping/ I’m sick of when Christmas come, I’m the one with the empty stocking. For the sake of Atlanta and everywhere else, let’s hope Pill gets what he wants.