Artist Joseph Veazey illustrates the city's hip-hop scene in 'Atlanta Rap Map'

atlanta rap map
The Atlanta Rap Map took over three years to complete. (Courtesy of Joseph Veazey)

Before Atlanta was the epicenter of hip-hop in the U.S., the South was often overlooked. It wasn’t until the ’90s when Southern hip-hop started to expand nationwide. At the 1995 Source Awards, when Andre 3000 of OutKast stated, “The South got something to say,” the rap scene shifted and continues to flourish here. Atlanta artist Joseph Veazey, the founder of Veazey Studio, illustrated the legacy of Atlanta’s hip-hop scene by creating the “Atlanta Rap Map.” He joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to discuss his vibrant creation.

Veazey’s “Rap Map” was a passion project undertaken in the full stride of a career in the arts. A professional graphic designer, Veazey wanted a project free from the last-minute revisions and other hassles of his client commissions. “I just realized maybe I’d do one in my spare time, and do it for me, do it for something … involved with some sort of charity aspect,” said Veazey. “Naturally, I thought, ‘You know what? What’s something that I really care about and grew up loving and have a lot of knowledge on?’ It wasn’t really a question to do anything other than Atlanta-based hip-hop.”

The map took Veazey three years to complete, with one full year of research beforehand. He tracked down discographies, biographies, photos and anything else he could find on the rap artists he loved from Atlanta going back to the 1980s and the other artists and producers he’d learn about along the way.

“I listened to … it had to have been over a thousand albums and mixtapes, and just writing down every note of every street name, every building, every old nightclub that was mentioned, and narrowing it down to what were the essential local hits, or essential songs that I would pull the references out to put on the map,” said Veazey. He even visited the Atlanta Housing Authority to find archival photos from public housing where the artists he studied once lived. 

“I really wanted it to be thorough, exhausting and something where nobody could really pick it apart and say I left anything out,” Veazey said.

Painted in full acrylic color, the map centers a detailed illustration of Atlanta in the center with over 100 locations and street names identified and historical facts colorfully laid out around the city. The map’s gilded border is a visual encyclopedia of legendary rap artists, each with their own vivid, stylized portrait. 

“Our city has something to really be proud about and really identify with,” said Veazey. “Atlanta hip-hop has just added so much to our world … something that attracts other people to come to be a part of. I can’t even express how valuable it is to the city.”

Joseph Veazey’s “Atlanta Rap Map” can be viewed and ordered at