You don’t often think of local politics when you think of rappers but in Atlanta, it seems there’s a growing political class consisting almost entirely of hip-hop artists who like to get involved by popping up at city council meetings and the like. During one such meeting on Monday this week (August 1), 2 Chainz and Killer Mike spoke out against a controversial new ordinance that they believe could have potentially crippling effects on small businesses in the area — including their own (2 Chainz owns a pair of restaurants; Mike has a chain of barbershops, among other interests).
In May, Atlanta’s city council introduced an amendment to current nuisance ordinances that allows the city to close a business deemed a nuisance by a municipal court twice in 24 months. That’s a lot of leeway — especially when business owners are being held accountable for incidents that occur outside their businesses and outside of their control. The amendment is ostensibly aimed at reducing violent crime around the city but owners like 2 Chainz and Mike are concerned it could be used to target Black-owned nightlife establishments, which would eventually be overtaken by franchises, according to Rolling Stone.
As Killer Mike put it during the meeting, “As Atlanta grows, corporations are going to be coming into here. Somebody is gonna have a nightlife in the convention city.” He noted that this could result in a choice between “the owners of Hard Rock [Cafe] or the owners of Hooters or the owners of a W Hotel, or it’s gonna be the little people that went to Frederick Douglas [high school]… and Southwest DeKalb, and schools like that” — in other words, locals. “We will not be electing council people from here, we will not be growing businesses from here. Because it will all be turned over to corporations… Are we going to keep Atlanta a place where local people can grow and thrive here?”
2 Chainz also spoke up, saying, “I’m very blessed, and I also like to be a blessing to others, and that’s what my businesses have allowed me to do. They need to retract some of the things they have on the ordinance. And I think crime is up everywhere, not just in Atlanta.” He’s right; crime is up around the country. It’s also still down from pre-pandemic levels, although that could change because of record inflation, a rising wave of evictions (after protections were removed by the federal government), and other crime-prevention protections expiring or losing funding (in favor of raising police budgets which… don’t prevent crime).
Even Young Thug’s father, Jeffrey Williams Sr., spoke up on behalf of businesses in place of his son (who is currently incarcerated because he rapped about his label, which supposedly has the same name as a gang). “If a crime happens by city hall,” he asked, “Was it city hall that caused it? You’re trying to hold artists responsible for the crime that’s in the city. Now you’re trying to point the finger at the nightlife to be part of the crime in the city.”