T.I. Says It’s A ‘Great Pleasure’ To Help New Atlanta Artists

'I think they all represent different movements,' T.I. said of the next wave of Atlanta rappers.

Atlanta may just be the hottest city in hip-hop right now. T.I., Young Jeezy and Ludacris all stand on top as kings of the game right now. Love him or hate him, ATL transplant Soulja Boy has already tapped into the young-listener market like no other, and his “Turn My Swag On” is probably the biggest rap record in the clubs right now. The veteran Gucci Mane is now out of jail and has the streets screaming for him. And let’s not forget Andre 3000 — whenever he steps out of the creative hideout he’s lounging in, a classic verse is a forgone conclusion.

And while other cities certainly have their share of heavyweights, Atlanta keeps turning out young talent who make themselves immediate heavy-hitters in local clubs and on the radio. Def Jam has just inked the trio F.L.Y., who are stirring up a dance movement with the song “Swag Surfin’, ” and T.I. is championing two of the city’s brightest prospects: Yung L.A. and B.o.B .

“I think they all represent different movements,” Tip told us recently about the next wave of Atlanta artists. “B.o.B from Yung L.A., they’re light years away. … I think that it’s great that the city is still growing, that the movement is alive and well. It gives me great pleasure to be able to present so many of these acts and to be responsible for the cultivating of their careers.”

Here are five Atlanta rap acts to look out for in 2009:

OJ Da Juiceman – The Juice says that the project he put out in January — The Otha Side of The Trap … — wasn’t an actual LP, it was more like a mixtape album. The big hit of the CD, “Make Tha Trap Say Aye,” featured Gucci Mane and became a street smash. Cam’ron recently laid vocals for the remix and it sounds like another winner for OJ. But now that his teammate Gucci Mane — who’s as popular in the streets as any MC right now — has been released from prison, it seems like the tandem will have no problems making waves in Atlanta and busting out mainstream-style in 2009.

B.o.B – Signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle, just listen to the guy’s creativity — he can flip lines on a Beatles sample, sing an irreplaceable hook on a duet with superstars T.I. and Ludacris or drop some dangerous verbiage with other blue-chip abstract MCs such as Charles Hamilton and Asher Roth. B.o.’s been getting busy for a year now, gaining popularity on the Net and the mixtape circuit. “Haters” and “I’ll Be in the Sky” were the big introductions, and the sky’s the limit for the fly GA weirdo in 2009.

F.L.Y. (Fast Life Youngstaz) – Trio Mycko McFly, Lil V and Mook have taken the word “swag” to a new level. F.L.Y. have made up the dance and song “Swag Surfin’.” (In the ATL clubs, people actually act like they are on an invisible surfboard when the record comes on!) The Youngstaz just signed to Def Jam and should have their first album out this summer.

Yung L.A. – “Ain’t I” was huge for the mohawk-sporting MC. Featuring T.I. and Yung Dro, the tune came out last year and is still buzzing in Hotlanta. L.A. and Dro have shown a keen chemistry for feeding off of each other, especially on their acclaimed joint mixtape Black Boy Swag, White Boy Tags. L.A. (Leland Austin) is getting ready to drop another single called “Futuristic Elroy” — which expounds on his own slanguage — and the album Futuristic Leland is slated for June.

Fonzworth Bentley – While his fellow rap acts need that mainstream recognition to truly get large, Bent is on TV several times a week on top-rated MTV series “From G’s to Gents” and has been highly recognizable for years. Being known for so many things other than rapping (fashion police, etiquette books, umbrella line, video guest appearances, etc.) has hindered his behind-the-mic transition. We’ve heard some music, and the Fonz has some joints — so don’t snicker. Andre 3000 and Kanye aren’t co-signing him just because they’re his friends, you know.