ATLANTA — The Atlanta hip-hop scene evokes names like Outkast, T.I., Migos, and numerous major-label success stories.
But in recent years, a different branch has taken hold, literally underground.
The Soul Food Cypher is, according to founder Alex Acosta, "hip-hop church." Members meet one Sunday a month in a basement at the Little Five Points Community Center. They form a circle. And then they rap. Or, as Acosta puts it, "they have fellowship."
It's not battle rap, though it is freestyle. "MCs and all people can share their stories," says Acosta. "To me, rappers are some of the most ingenious, creative people. In essence, they problem-solve. They take very complex ideas and simplify them, so that even kids can understand it."
That's why the Cypher has extended beyond the basement. They've worked with the High Museum, Sprite, the Boys and Girls Club of America, and various colleges and schools in metro Atlanta. Acosta was recently named a 2019 resident at Atlanta's Center for Civic Innovation.
"It just shows that our MCs are intellectual," he says, "when so much of the narrative around them is that they're violent, degrading to women, and going nowhere in life. We completely reverse that narrative.
"We re-brand the MC into Atlanta's greatest asset."
Watch Matt Pearl's story above. And if you know of a great untold story of Metro Atlanta, e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.