Atlanta Journal-Constitution celebrates hip-hop’s 50th anniversary with first documentary from AJC Films

By Jaime McMurtrie

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta, Georgia, United States


For more than 155 years, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) has documented the history of Atlanta and this region. The AJC is rooted in a rich tradition of world-class journalism and storytelling, and our AJC Film, “The South Got Something To Say,” embodies the very best of what we do.

When we began talking about this film, our intention was to mark the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, an occasion being celebrated around the country. But that moment began in the Bronx, New York, so we decided to focus on what happened in our own backyard.

The local rise of hip-hop

The film traces the rise of Atlanta’s hip-hop scene from the 1995 Source Awards, where OutKast’s André 3000 sent a message to rappers in New York and California, famously declaring, “The South got something to say.” For the next 30 years, the city and its soundtrack have been intertwined.

Award-winning directors Ryon and Tyson Horne, along with AJC reporters DeAsia Paige and Ernie Suggs, conducted more than 60 interviews with hip-hop legends, political figures, and Atlanta influencers. The outcome is a definitive oral history of America’s rap capital. 

“The conditions were ripe for Atlanta to take this thing built in New York and remake it in its own image,” said AJC Editor-in-Chief Leroy Chapman. “The AJC witnessed this evolution. We were there at the beginning. There have been other films about the 50th anniversary of hip-hop but none that tell it like this. None that bring it home to Atlanta.”

The project marked the launch of AJC Films, part of the storied newspaper’s recently announced effort to transform itself into a modern media company through new voices, content and mediums.

To support the film’s launch, the newspaper hosted an all-day event with panellists and discussions on the importance of race, culture, and music in Atlanta. Research showed Atlanta audiences seek more content related to Black culture, and this event marked the beginning of work to build an audience, increase engagement, and deepen brand awareness of content that celebrates culture, events, news, and trends of interest in Atlanta’s Black community.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution launched its AJC Films division with The South Got Something to Say, which chronicles the history of hip-hop music in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution launched its AJC Films division with The South Got Something to Say, which chronicles the history of hip-hop music in Atlanta.

A warm reception

The film release and surrounding events were well-received within the community, with all 850 tickets for the evening programming selling out. More than 300 guests attended daytime programming, and in total the event boasted over 20 guest panellists. Six community partners showcased Black entrepreneurs and businesses. 

While the key objectives were event attendance and online film views, the event was also a success in terms of revenue, with several trade and paying sponsors contributing more than US$35,000 in advertising revenue.

During our launch period, the film attracted new audiences into the funnel — 652 new registrations (a requirement to watch the film). We’ve never seen registration conversion like this before — 5.2% compared to less than 1% in previous efforts.

Paid marketing was our second-highest source of traffic to the film overall, driving 22% of unique users. While most viewers — of both the film and the related content — came from Atlanta, we also saw significant interest across Georgia (27%), the South (14%), and the rest of the nation (29%).

In both Meta and YouTube platforms, the hip-hop targeted campaign achieved slightly over 2 million impressions and 21.8K total clicks. Our tailored hip-hop audience showed strong engagement, generating an overall high click-through rate on Meta, while remaining engaged to watch the “South Got Something To Say” trailer on YouTube. The placements achieved an impressive video completion rate of 95.98%, surpassing the benchmark by 40%.

Finally, our PR campaign led to 398 media mentions, more than 77% of which were through online news. Earned media drove an audience that equalled tens of millions of impressions.

About Jaime McMurtrie

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.