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 Atlanta has always been that spot for out-of-towners ...

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 The ATL sound: from bass to crunk to snap music ...

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 T.I. and Young Jeezy get out of the trap ...

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 New music breaks where the ladies shake that Laffy Taffy ...

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 The dances you need to know: the Yeek, the Snap Dance, the A-Town Stomp ...

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 Top Atlanta hot spots ...

My Block: Atlanta
Find out where to score exclusive A-Town caps and Luda's favorite chicken and waffles in
this video footage.

 ATL Hip-Hop: The Big Picture

 A Great Day In Atlanta: T.I., Jeezy, Ludacris, Others Gather For Historic Shoot

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The ATL Sound

So what is the Atlanta sound? Is it the frenzied crunk of Lil Jon? The concrete-rooted trap music of T.I. and Young Jeezy? Or the finger-snapping sounds of D4L and Dem Franchize Boyz? Simply put, it's all of those things. And no matter what form it takes, it always gets plenty of hometown love.

"Atlanta's always been a city where the local music is just as hot as a Jay-Z or whoever the big national artist is."

"Atlanta's always been a city where the local music is just as hot as a Jay-Z or whoever the big national artist is at the time," says Lil Jon, "even if you go back to when [Atlanta music founding father] Kilo was doing bass [in the late '80s to mid-'90s]. He was running the 'Top 8 at 8' on radio station Beat 103 — what everybody used to listen to back in the day. Bass was the predominant local music of the time, so that's what you heard on the local countdowns and that's what people wanted to hear in the clubs."

Jon has definitely cornered the market on what people want to hear in the clubs. The King of Crunk has managed to garner platinum and gold plaques for himself and the artists he produces while still maintaining credibility with his core audience. While many say crunk and bass music are comparable, Jon says the two stand on their own.

"Bass and crunk ain't really similar except that crunk has 808 [drum-machine sounds] and bass has 808," he says. "[They both have] claps, snares and hi-hats, but bass music is music that was designed to make the women go crazy and shake their asses. Bass music was also about being nasty and freaky — guys freaking and humping on the girls and so on. Crunk music is music that was meant to make everybody go crazy and wild out. It don't have nothing to do with being freaky and none of that. Crunk is just be free, be loose, go as crazy as you want to be. Slam dance! Throw your drink on the crowd."

Jermaine Dupri calls crunk the black version of punk rock.

Ludacris, Usher and Young Jeezy may not have been born in Atlanta, but they've lived there most of their lives and are synonymous with A-Town nonetheless. Several of their celebrity friends have moved there to soak up that Southern hospitality too. Here are the most famous ATL transplants:

  Nas and Kelis
Hometowns: Queens and New York, NY

  Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown
Hometowns: Newark, NJ, and Boston

Hometown: New York

  Michael Vick
Hometown: Newport News, VA

  Jazze Pha
Hometown: Memphis, TN

  Elton John
Hometown: Pinner, Middlesex, England

  Da Brat
Hometown: Chicago

  Bow Wow
Hometown: Columbus, OH

  Dominique Wilkins
Hometown: Washington, NC

  Bizarre of D12
Hometown: Detroit

  The Aphilliates
Hometown: Philadelphia

  Too Short
Hometown: Oakland, CA

Hometown: New Orleans

"I even told somebody when crunk first got going that you could see the difference in people's eyes, you could see how crunk music affected them compared to the other music that was going on," Dupri remembers. "It was like they just start looking different when they hear these records and it was like they were possessed. I don't know what it was, but it was just a thing that was inside a whole bunch of kids that had been waiting to get out."

"Lil Jon's crunk sound, I swear it's as slum as Atlanta is," Organized Noize producer Rico Wade says. "But of course you also have the Buckhead and Southwest Atlanta side that is Toni Braxton, TLC, Outkast. It's ghetto but it's classy."

Organized Noize helped bring ATL into prominence in the mid-'90s by producing Outkast's groundbreaking Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik album. Organized's sound was a polished throwback to pimpish '70s soul grooves with a hip-hop edge to it. Charge that to Organized member Sleepy Brown being influenced by watching his father, Jimmy Brown, and his pop's group Brick in the '70s performing at concerts and cutting albums. Organized Noize's Ray Murray was the die-hard hip-hop head, while Wade loved rock music.

"We knew the South was special and we made a point to drive that early," Wade offers. "Luckily that drove a lot of people and it's been going on for 10 years. Now Atlanta is a hub, like how people go to California or New York."

"It's the freshness and the drive," Dupri says about the potent production coming out of A-Town. "We don't try to ride off nothing else that's going on nowhere else. You really want to rep your town."

The ATL sound is continuing to evolve even now. Mr. Collipark, who's produced tracks for the Ying Yang Twins and David Banner, is trying to start his own sound, called intimate club music, where the MC whispers on the track. The groups D4L and Dem Franchize Boyz are ushering in the "snap music" sound, which incorporates very simplistic beats and finger snaps. There's a dance to go along with this music as well.

"The freshest movement going on right now is the finger-snap movement," Mr. Collipark says. "We're getting that regional sound back with these finger-snap records. Atlanta is commercialized now with Jon getting so big, Ying Yang Twins getting so big. It's like with anything — once the mainstream gets ahold of it, the value goes down. Now we're having a whole new movement with the snap music."

NEXT: 'It's lucrative out here for a young cat who don't care nothing about the consequences.' ...
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Photo: MTV News

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