The words "style, attitude, and talent to spare" don't just describe Atlanta; they also apply to ATL, the new musical sensation that's laying claim to the city's namesake. They're not "throwing bows" or "getting crunk;" instead, these four young men are delivering their smooth blend of R&B and Hip-Hop to the world straight from the city with a penchant for unearthing superstars. From TLC and OutKast, to Monica and Usher, Atlanta has proven that they've got what music lovers want. But don't dismiss this gifted group as just another 112 or Jagged Edge clone either. One listen to their self-titled Epic Records/Noontime Inc. debut, and there's no doubting that these guys stand on their own talent. Unlike other groups, their infectious R&B grooves perfectly merge with polished but edgy rhymes. Who knows how to describe it? Maybe it's Southern-fried or Hip-Hop Soul with a twist, but one thing's certain: it's a potion that only the culturally-crossed city of Atlanta could concoct.
ATL is the brainchild of Ryan Glover, CEO of Noontime, Inc. In the style of American Idol, which had an overwhelming Atlanta representation in the first two competitions, Glover and one of Atlanta's premier radio stations, V-103, sent out a call for three male singers and a rapper to musically represent Atlanta's unique atmosphere. Out of 3,000 hopefuls, we now have: Danger, Tre, Will, and L-Rock. It's not surprising that only one of the members is originally from Atlanta, being that the spirit of the city is one of transplants and different cultures. In the same way, each member of ATL, and their music, represents a different type of flavor.
ATL's debut album, The ATL Project, features the sultry single "Make It Up With Love." The ultra-smooth ballad, produced by R&B hit-makers Night & Day (Frankie J., Omarion), deals with trying to reconcile with a special love who is feeling neglected. "Everyone has felt like this once in their life," explains L-Rock. "It's about trying to rekindle a relationship between two people who haven't been spending much time together."
Another standout cut is the R. Kelly produced "Calling All Girls," a silver-tongued declaration alerting young women everywhere that ATL is taking over. "We were at a loss for words when we heard that R. Kelly wanted to write a song for us," says Tre.
The members of ATL pride themselves on genuinely fusing R&B and Hip-Hop, a claim made by other urban groups on the regular, yet their assertion is solidified on the alluring, summer-like jam, "It's Us," anchored by Danger, the unit's resident lyricist. His witty and durable flow, backed by the tender vocals of the others, make this Bonnie and Clyde-esque ditty, produced by the clever Bryan Micheal Cox (Usher, Jagged Edge), a obvious standout. One of their favorites is "You Are," produced by Teddy Bishop (Ginuwine, Dave Hollister), and penned by wunderkind writer Johnta Austin (Aaliyah, Toni Braxton). "It's an incredible ballad that showcases all of our vocal abilities," says L-Rock. "I Know" is a "well beyond their years," soulful plea for the understanding that's essential to all relationships. Their perfect harmonies float above producer Troy Taylor's (Tyrese, Boyz II Men) equally flawless melody. "Holla At Ya Boy" is strictly for the ladies, as the batch flirtatiously take it to the dance floor, with the instantly recognizable Atlanta flavor of producer Jazze Pha. Wanting a second chance, the boys sing and rap that "I wish I coulda been a better man/I wish I was still your man," on the gentle, yet street savvy "I Wish," another Jazze Fizzle joint.
Born and raised in the "Boogie Down" Bronx, N.Y., 18-year old Danger, who wrote and performed the theme song for BET's "Teen Summit" for 2 seasons, would visit family members in Atlanta while growing up. Although he's been rhyming since he was a shorty, he didn't think of this as a possible career until he encountered the distinct music scene that thrives in Atlanta. He's not at all worried about not being taken seriously as a rapper in an R&B group. "This is one of the first projects where you're going to get an R&B flavor with true singing and rapping, with the exception of Jay-Z and R. Kelly's Best Of Best Worlds," he says with his clipped New York accent. "Real rappers know real rappers."
While Danger is probably the most talkative of the group, 18-year old Tre is a close runner-up. Hailing from North Carolina, he's been singing all of his life, but has been chasing his dream for the past 5 or 6 years, and with the looks of it, he's finally caught it. He counts Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Usher as definite influences, but he strives for "up-and-coming artists to mention ATL as their inspiration in a few years."
With Jagged Edge and Jodeci as his inspirations, Will, also 18, comes to ATL from Cincinnati, Ohio. The most laidback of the crew, he has been back and forth to Atlanta for the past 4 years. He dismisses any doubts about the group's talent, or being referred to as a prefabricated creation. "We're not amateurs. Everybody's been doing their thing for awhile, and now we are all on the same track. But, it's still about being ourselves."
L-Rock, describes himself as "the vocal powerhouse of the group," (as the others laugh at the description). "No seriously, I don't stand alone, he says firmly. "Tre and Will are just as strong, and we are all different because there is no lead singer in the group, no one person to stand out front. We all get some shine." The 16 year-old Atlanta native grew up in the church and wants other young people to know that it's possible to live righteously and still have fun. "You can have values and be a part of the music industry. You can let your light shine."
Make no mistake; with the hard work they've put in over the past year, recording until sunset and practicing all day with renown choreographer Devyne Stephens (P. Diddy, Usher), the guys of ATL are ready for what's to come. "This is an opportunity to rep something so big for each of us," says Tre. "ATL, the group and the city, holds a big part of who we are and what we are trying to be."
--- from the official ATL website