By Koye Berry

The Sounds

Hip-hop in Atlanta is all about aggressive beats to move your feet. The sound of the South is tailor-made for nightclubs and partygoers. It all starts with crunk. It’s the energy of techno and the simplicity of house music mixed with the grit and urban appeal of classic hip-hop. Most importantly, it’s 100 percent “Dirty South,” the sound made famous by Atlanta natives Outkast and Lil’ Jon & the Eastside Boyz. In the decade or so since crunk emerged, it has rocketed from the clubs to the cars, spawning ubiquitous radio hits like “Get Low,” “Salt Shaker” and “Goodies,” and becoming a mainstream hip-hop genre. In 2006, Three 6 Mafia won the Best Original Song Academy Award for “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp,” from the movie Hustle & Flow.

While the rest of the hip-hop nation was catching on to crunk, it continued to evolve in Atlanta. Focusing on crunk’s strong dance aspect, Southern rappers developed snap music. Marked by a sharp finger snap on the third beat of every measure, snap music makes it easy for even the most inexperienced dancers to hit the floor and enjoy themselves. Some call it the “snap dance,” others call it the “Fabo” for former D4L member – whatever the name, if you can snap, you can dance. Whether you “Lean Wit’ It, Rock Wit’ It” like Dem Franchize Boyz or “Snap Yo Fingers” like Lil’ Jon, be sure to strike a pose.

The Spots

With all the great music being made right here in town, the most important thing to know is where to hear it. There’s no better venue for Southern hip-hop than Atlanta’s clubs. That’s why Jermaine Dupri, Atlanta’s premier hip-hop producer, opened Studio 72. Located in Tucker, Studio 72 is a modern-day answer to the mythic Studio 54, drawing on the decadence of the 1970s funk scene. What other nightclub boasts an 1,100-gallon aquarium in the lobby? Not only will you hear the latest in hometown hip-hop at Studio 72, you may find yourself rubbing elbows with the likes of Da Brat, Lil’ Jon, Mariah Carey or even Mr. Dupri himself. Dress to impress.

If you’re looking to party downtown, chill with Grammy winner and ATL star T.I. at his own Club Crucial. T.I. grew up in Atlanta’s Bankhead neighborhood, and that’s where you’ll find Club Crucial’s pool tables, plasma TVs and exclusive VIP area. The local talent takes the stage every Monday night for the “Hustle & Flow” open mic. Start your weekend off right with “Free Fridays” — featuring free parking, free admission and drink specials. If stargazing is more your style, “Celebrity Saturday” is the night for you. Young Dro, Young Jeezy and Fantasia all have come through Club Crucial; so, you never know who might show up.

The Style

Before hitting the clubs, you’ve got to have the look. No one combines hip-hop style with upscale quality better than Atlanta’s own Chilly-O. With a line of couture T-shirts and a brand new denim collection, Chilly-O long has been a favorite with hip-hop scenesters with an eye on the underground. Now that the label has found fans in Big Boi and Ludacris, this unique fusion of fashion, art and hip-hop can be found in exclusive Downtown and Little Five Points boutiques, such as P. Valentine Boutique, Tease and USA Boutique. It’s a fashion week take on Dirty South style, a label that embraces the intelligence and individuality of the hip-hop community. And, it’s perfect for your next night out.