Food isn’t just a means of survival, it’s an influence. Pretty often, spots are mentioned in songs, certain dishes have been deemed cool to partake in on numerous verses, and restaurants cash in on happy hours and events hosted by entertainment’s elite. The impact is obvious, and because of that, restaurant tastemaker Nick Love combined his two loves, music and food. The collaboration was given the name ATL Bite Life.
To sum it up, it's the go-to guide for restaurant reviews from a more urban standpoint.
“Music's influence has always been seen in the way young adults talk, walk, dress, etc. With eating and dining out, it's no different. When Jeezy mentions spots in Atlanta, like Spondivits or Chanterelles, fans of his are going to want to know about those places, and they go try them. When Jay Z mentions Mr. Chow, people are going to get curious," explains Love.
"You can even look at artists like Common or, most recently, Jermaine Dupri, who have emphasized their vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. You are now starting to see young adults in the 'hood leaning towards that lifestyle, too. Artists aren't always the direct cause, but they definitely have some influence. Musicians have always been able to make things cool and hip. Dining is no different,” he adds.
The ATL Bite Life website and show travel around the city - usually twice a week - highlighting favorites and trying new eateries. Love shares what he feels ties the two forces together:
"Well, I'm a product of the Hip-Hop generation. I was born in 1980, so I've seen and been influenced by everything from the original pioneers to this most recent indie/internet rapper movement. I'm just taking something that I know and I’m passionate about, and applying it to something else that I know just as well, and I’m just as passionate about.
"Plus, food and music are a natural fit because they are two of the least divisive, non-discriminate entities in the world. EVERYBODY has to eat. We may have different tastes and preferences, but it's absolutely necessary in order to live. It's the same thing with music. We may have different tastes and preferences, but there's something about a catchy melody or a familiar tune that ignites something inside of all of us.”
Restaurants from Buckhead to Decatur have made it to the ATL Bite Life spotlight, helping patrons to diversify their tastebuds. This type of venture isn't new per se, but the Hip-Hop community being included so much is new. The show features various entertainment figures and looks to add well known co-signs to the mix; Young Jeezy, 2 Chainz, Travis Porter, Chili, and others have sat down with Love over fine cuisine.
When certain holidays or events are coming up, ATL Bite Life provides suggestions and resources, making them the authority in the city. And, with features in Creative Loafing, BET.com, Eater.com, and Scoutmob, it’s clear that their opinions are trusted.
For visitors to Atlanta, Love offers these suggestions as must-try places: "There are four spots that I would really recommend for anyone looking to 'taste' Atlanta: Busy Bee Cafe (great soul food), Ann's Snack Bar (that Ghetto Burger is the best burger in the WORLD), Magic City (it's not just a strip club; they have some of the best wings around), and Fatt Matts (great down home barbecue). Beyond that, they just venture around the city. We've got neighborhoods that all have their own distinct flair.”
Ultimately, Love hopes to expand to other cities around the country. After all, the love of food travels across state lines.
Along with a wish list of breakfast, lunch, and dinner stops to make, he has another list of staple names he'd love to have on ATL Bite Life. “At the top of my wish list right now has got to be Big and Dre from OutKast. After that, I'm really a big sports fanatic, too. So, I'd love to get Josh Smith from the Hawks and Julio Jones or Roddy White from the Falcons,” says Love.
What are your favorite Hip-Hop inspired eateries in your city, and why? Tell us in the comment section!
Tawni Fears is a freelance writer and contributor to AllHipHop.com. Follow her on Twitter (@brwnsugaT).