Every time I visit Atlanta I feel like I’m in another country. Gambino calls it “Black Sweden”, and that’s not far from the truth. In fact, Atlanta is so unique I start to believe that this is what the United States would look like if Kunta Kinte and his clan colonized the new world instead of Columbus.
The lobby of AmericasMart held a crowd of mostly black faces, specifically black entrepreneurs and businessmen. There were black men and women from places far and wide like south Florida and upstate New York lining up on escalators to enter Atlanta’s A3C Hip Hop Conference and Festival.
On the fourth floor, I was greeted by an eight-foot sign that read: A3C. There was no mistaking where I was, but I like to pretend I was lost in the moment. Several hundred people were buzzing about on the festival floor. Producers, designers, rappers, singers, managers and more were all networking and engaged in presenting their best selves. I felt like Professor X watching humanity through the eyes of Cerebro. But this isn’t a spectator sport, so I hop back into my zone and join the many voices about.
By luck, or by fate -whatever you believe in really- I run into the producer behind the hit song “To the Max”. I won’t say his name here, but he’s not hard to find. He told me his story on how his music got into the hands of DJ Khaled, who put the song into the hands of Drake. It went gold status on the Billboard just a few weeks later.
An uproar of laughter cut our conversation short. From over 20 feet away I could hear a hundred people wiping tears of joy from their faces. So out of curiosity, I head to where the sound is coming from and it leads me to a large conference room, where none other than DC Young Fly and his crew from 85 South are sitting center stage.
The crowd loved their set, and DC Young Fly and 85 South just drip with personality on stage. But after a brief bout of Q&A, their moment came to an end.https://glassefactory.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/IMG_1193.mov
The main event was Gary Vee. An immigrant from Belarus, he built his fortune using the internet to bolster his father’s wine sales and then turned that capital into more capital through investments. His speech was something I didn’t get on camera, but I did manage to take notes.
His words were all about the grind. Most of it was your standard inspirational affair, with a few gems sprinkled in for good measure. “Figure out where the attention is, what you want to say, and how you want to say it… Take your ego out of it… and fuck anyone’s judgment on you holding an L, if you don’t allow their opinions in, the fear of failure can’t get to you.”
Then he said something that struck a chord with me. “You’re young. And if life is a game, you’re still in the first quarter. Some people get lucky and get a lead on whatever their dreams are early, and if that’s not you, remember you still have three more quarters to go. Now, go!”
Mortality is something I’ve been struggling with for the past year. In particular, the fear of dying old and unaccomplished. But hearing this refreshed me. Even if rap is a young man’s sport and I go unsuccessful in it, I still have so much more time, and so many more dreams I can accomplish. And honestly, if you take nothing else away from this, just realize, so do you.
- Scott Summers