Unk, Polow Da Don, B.O.B. — Who Will Be The Next ATL Star?

D.G. Yola, Johnta Austin, Alliance could also follow in footsteps of Outkast, Luda and T.I.

Outkast and TLC may have set it off for the A as a hip-hop bedpost in the early ’90s, but those two groups alone weren’t the only ones to rep Atlanta to the fullest.

Ludacris, Goodie Mob, Jermaine Dupri, Usher, T.I., the Youngbloodz and newer acts like Young Jeezy, Yung Joc and Lloyd have all had a hand in keeping the town buzzing long after cities like Philadelphia, St. Louis, Chicago and Miami popped up as the latest rap hotspots.

In 2007, Atlanta artists continue to prove their city’s prowess as the Southern mecca of hip-hop, as they come through with more big hits than Alex Rodriguez. With new albums on the way from T.I., Joc and DJ Drama, MTV News decided to fill you in on the next invasion of ATLiens. Charts, beware.

B.O.B.
Hailing from Decatur, Georgia, this left-of-center upstart is more scrapper than trapper or rapper. Case in point: The teenage B.O.B. snuck his way into T.I.’s Club Crucial last year to perform his self-produced underground ode to sticky, “Cloud 9,” to a crowd heavily populated by music-industry heavyweights. Veteran music man TJ Chapman was in attendance, was wowed by the woozy spoken-word-like track and agreed to co-manage B.O.B. Signed to producer Jim Jonsin’s Rebel Rock imprint through Atlantic Records, B.O.B. — who cites influences ranging from DMX to Kanye to Goodie Mob — is now working on his debut with Jonsin and David Banner, among others.
Next up: graduating from Columbia High School in Decatur.

Polow Da Don
Formerly a member of rap foursome Jim Crow, this Atlanta transplant started producing full time after the group disbanded and laced hits for the likes of Ludacris (“Pimpin’ All Over the World”) and Jamie Foxx (“DJ Play a Love Song”) before breaking out last year as the go-to producer for pop princesses. The Pussycat Dolls, Fergie, Ciara and Kelly Rowland have all benefited from Polow’s touch. But he’s also stayed knee-deep in the rap game by introducing Rich Boy and producing Young Buck’s stomping “Get Buck.” .
Next up: working with Keri Hilson, a singer he helped sign to Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group.

D.G. Yola
Rumor has it that Da Great Yola almost joined T.I.’s Grand Hustle camp last year before negotiations broke down between the two sides, but with his rousing track “Ain’t Gon Let Up,” the rugged Atlanta teen bum-rushed his way through on his own. He suffered a setback when he was shot in the face last year during a robbery attempt, which pushed back his album indefinitely, but fortunately for the future star, the injury wasn’t life threatening. He did, however, have to get his jaw wired shut, Kanye-style.
Next up: more R&R before he heads back into the studio to finish his debut album, Gutta World.

Gorilla Zoe
With his gravelly voice and measured flow, Boyz N Da Hood’s newest inductee, Gorilla Zoe, hopes to fill the shoes of departing member Young Jeezy and keep the movement moving, Menudo-style. Featured heavily on DJ Smallz and Block’s mixtape Welcome to My Block 2, Zoe can also be found spitting alongside fellow Block Entertainment mate Yung Joc on his new single “Coffee Shop.”
Next up: the video for “Coffee Shop” followed by BNDH’s sophomore project, Back Up in Da Chevy, due August 7.

Da Shop Boyz
Undoubtedly thee hottest song in the A right now belongs to this trio — the chanting, drumming “Party Like a Rock Star,” which has the indie act riding high and, well, partying like rock stars. Composed of members Fat, Meany and Sheed, Da Shop Boyz have been promoting their record heavily on the club circuit and online. Now Atlanta’s King of Crunk, Lil Jon, has jumped on the remix to really stir things up.
Next up: more shows, more wrecked hotel rooms and more parties.

The Alliance
Being second isn’t always such a bad thing. The next biggest song in Atlanta at the moment without a doubt belongs to this all-star committee comprising Blackout, P.O.P., Skinny, rapstress Bliss and producer Ty-Cutta. The snappin’ “Tattoo,” featuring D4L’s Fabo, is taking the clubs by storm and recently got the group signed to Asylum Records. R.I.P. tats, body-pic tats, boyfriend-name tats — if it’s inked on, the Alliance have it covered on “Tattoo.”
Next up: finishing tracks for their yet-untitled debut.

Johnta Austin
This singer/songwriter penned hits for Mariah Carey and Aaliyah, among others, before prepping his debut, Ocean Drive, which sparked the minor hit “Turn It Up” with Jadakiss. Austin’s album, however, was never released, and he parted ways with Virgin Records and followed mentor Jermaine Dupri — with whom he recently shared ASCAP Pop Songwriter of the Year honors — to Island Def Jam.
Next up: working on new material with JD, which he hopes will lead to an album that actually hits shelves.

DJ Unk
Unk should make it on this list simply for inspiring Andre 3000 to rap again in a remix of his monstrous stepping hit “Walk It Out.” But aside from that, “Walk It Out” was also the closing jam to last year’s first-ever BET Hip-Hop Awards. But Unk is no one-hit wonder. His follow-up single “2 Step,” from his debut, Beat’n Down Yo Block!, broke into the top 10 of Billboard‘s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
Next up: the third single, appropriately titled “Hit the Dance Floor.”

Fabo
With his white sunglasses, multihued socks and exaggerated dance steps, Fabo had the bull’s-eye on his back when his group D4L arrived with their snap track “Laffy Taffy.” Fabo took the hits from rap purists for being everything wrong with hip-hop, but he’s gotten the last laugh, as he’s quickly become one of ATL’s most sought-after collaborators, appearing on tracks with the Alliance, Jibbs, Usher’s group One Chance and Da Muzicianz. Now, Fabo’s working on his solo album, Gik Music, set for release this summer.
Next up: studio time with Young Jeezy, Young Dro and Cee-Lo.

USDA
Young Jeezy’s partners in crime, Blood Raw and Slick Pulla, are finally getting their chance to shine after countless mixtapes and features alongside the Snowman the past few years. With their menacing debut, Young Jeezy Presents USDA: Cold Summer, look for these trap stars to become full-on rap stars.
Next up: the underground anthem “White Girls.”