In order to prep for Atlanta’s return, we take a look back at one of the best TV show soundtracks of the decade. The TV show is created and produced by Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino), so it isn’t exactly a surprise that the Grammy–nominated musician would curate such an incredible collection of songs.
One of the songs first featured in the series teaser, way before the critical acclaim, was “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” by Tame Impala, the Australian psychedelic rock band led by Kevin Parker. Tame Impala’s sound is a far cry from what you think of when you picture Atlanta’s music scene, yet, Donald Glover seamlessly integrates the synthesizer–heavy rock song into an exciting introduction to the new show. Tame Impala might not be a perfect mesh with some of the other Atlanta artists, but it seems the teaser got enough attention for Atlanta to gain a strong following right from the start. And, most importantly, the song title seemed to be a good hint for Earn's (Donald Glover's character) adventures for much of the show.
Many of the other significant songs featured in Atlanta are either from Atlanta–born rappers or are simply good rap songs (or both). Episode one features “One Time” by Migos (who, perhaps not coincidentally, make a cameo later in the show as drug dealers making deals out of an RV). Meanwhile, episode two’s most notable track is neither a hip–hop song nor a song from an Atlanta–based artist, but Bill Withers’ classic 1971 song “Grandma’s Hands.” However, “Grandma’s Hands” isn’t exactly an anomaly in Atlanta—the song is irrefutably one of the best soul songs of the decade, and it isn’t surprising that Glover chose to include it early on in his TV show.
Episode three features eight songs jam–packed into the episode. The soundtrack has a collection of mostly hip–hop music, including the song “Skrt” from new–school rapper Kodak Black, two more tracks from Migos, and Boston–based rapper Cousin Stizz’s “Shoutout.” Episode four most notably features “It G Ma,” a song from South Korean hip–hop artist Keith Ape, and the aggressive–sounding (yet incredible) “Philosopher’s Throne” from Xavier Wulf.
Episode six, while only containing four songs, has standout anthem “Hit it and Quit It” by Funkadelic. Recognize it? The Funkadelic song clearly influenced Childish Gambino’s “Boogieman,” the third song off his Grammy–nominated album, "Awaken, My Love!" Atlanta’s first season premiered in September 2016 while "Awaken, My Love!" was released in December 2016, so the timeline indicates a likely connection between the two.
Episode seven of Atlanta contained a song by another Atlanta hip–hop authority, Future—specifically, “Real Sisters” off Future’s DS2. Additionally, Glover included Young Thug’s “Digits” in the same episode, increasing the ever–appropriate “Atlanta rapper” tally even more. And while episode eight had some incredible old–school songs such as the 1963 classic “Chain Gang” by Sam Cooke and Sam Cleveland’s 1974 song “Save Me Lord," the true track that stole the show in episode eight was the last track of the season—Outkast’s “Elevators (Me and You)." The use of this song to close out the season has so much meaning, particularly considering the message of the song is about Andre 3000 and Big Boi’s ascendance to fame and wealth from their early penniless days. Atlanta had waited almost the entire season to use a song by Outkast, the duo arguably most important to Atlanta’s now thriving hip-hop scene. But the spotlight on Donald Glover’s financially struggling character with “Elevators” playing in the background in the final few minutes of the season finale was nothing short of emotional, if not self–aware. Atlanta returns to FX on March 1.