Not long at all, it’s not hard, it’s only about five to six weeks. You gotta know your stuff, you got to memorize each syllable, just like a movie. I started doing it in 2005: I had a good friend who’s like, ‘Dude, you already do this’ or, ‘How about you try?’ He said, ‘It’s been five years and it’s still just like a movie.’ He was able to teach me everything. And then it kind of just kind of flowed from there. It just happened.”
The man’s voice, which at first sounded like a young rapper doing a “fucking hip-hop song” (as he put it), later became a sort of aural portrait of Atlanta, especially in the context of the city’s culture and culture itself, one of the most important in the world in many ways, with its “trophies, medals, and trophies,” according to De La Soul, “a whole bunch of black people who are doing amazing things in their lives.” He’d been living in Atlanta since 2003, though he had been on the road since the late ’80s, having traveled up the western coast to play a summer show in California before returning in 1993 to play a summer show in Atlanta.
De La Soul had been one of the leaders of the scene, but the rapper himself had a mixed relationship with it. While he’d always been somewhat of an opportunist, he’d also made an effort to distance himself from De La Soul after the group split in 1997, eventually moving to Southern California to focus on his solo career. “My life was changing way too much,” he said, “but there was still something that people never understood.”
The rap scene in Atlanta, for the most part, had remained fairly insular. De La Soul had grown up in the area, but his father had once owned a bar and, during his time in Atlanta, had been part of a rap crew called The Crew. “That was my family,” he said, of having grown up around “rap people.” And though he’d been around it during the time he spent living in Atlanta, Atlanta had long been a somewhat insular place, with little in the way of mainstream culture. In the beginning, De La Soul never even considered going to college, or even, at first, trying to get a diploma.
“Atlanta was never trying to be any type of hip-hop capital
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