Awareness is essential to activism, but how can one build a tangible resistance to things that they KNOW in there heart is wrong… by themselves? The answer is easy. They can’t.

Atlanta has certainly realized this during the past year as local music fans become more involved with community activist organizations who use their art to bring awareness to important social issues. One of those Atlanta activists is the hip-hop collective Wake. Their new initiative wakeATL is helping spread the word through a series of free events, music, visual art, fanzines and more.

WakeATL immediately caught the attention of national press last year after their premiere installment of wakeATL: Call To Action.

Their show lineups feature talented emerging performers that have an aura of social consciousness about them. WakeATL has already hosted three well attended events in Atlanta, and will continue to ride their momentum throughout 2017 with a fourth event this Fall.

I attended their third Call to Action installment which focused on local resistance and got a firsthand look at this politically charged energy emanating from this growing subculture.


Volunteers from local activist organizations were on-hand alongside the musicians and artists in a heated dialogue around topics of gentrification, how we can resist the new administration at a grassroots level, and the growing level of Atlanta activism and the nation as a whole.

Wake has taught us that if you don’t like something, take matters into your own hands and do something about it.

Wake wasn’t exactly thrilled with how they we being booked and treated by promoters and decision makers behind the local music scene. Founding member Keith William told us, “We were getting discouraged because a lot of the shows we were getting, we weren’t really happy with, like opening up for an opener, or venues we didn’t really like and were dependent on too many outside sources in order to do what we wanted to do.”

So they took control by creating and promoting a show exactly how they wanted it.

wake ATL keith william atlanta local resistance

They’ve also found the time around wakeATL: Call To Action to put out some fresh, politically charged music. Their latest cassette release Manifesto is a bed of strange auditory landscapes and seeming subliminal messages topped with aggravated raps that remind listeners to search for “substance in a sea of cheap thrills.”

You can hear it here, but it’s certainly not background music. Pop it in the deck only when you can give it your full attention as it certainly commands it.

“In history, any kind of music that I like, there’s been this sort of underbelly social awareness and political anger that’s behind everything.”
– Keith William

Let’s not sleep on Wake. Rise up. Create an impact starting at the grassroots level.

It’s easy for us to talk among ourselves and takes much more effort and commitment to get organized, engage each other and take real action—not just an angry emoji on Facebook or a drunken rant at 1am on the patio of 97 Estoria. Let’s educate and motivate each other to address these issues and come up with viable solutions. This doesn’t just go for social issues. It applies to life, career and relationships.

This Fall’s incarnation of wakeATL will be themed Funding For the Arts. According to this NY Times article, some 40% of the arts and humanities agencies’ budgets go directly to state and regional arts councils across the United States. With the Trump administration’s plans for eliminating the art and humanities agencies and defunding the nonprofit public broadcasting corporation as part of a wider program of federal budget cuts, this would radically reshape Atlanta’s cultural foundation.

It’s an artist’s job to question and push creative boundaries. We need to support and empower the people who are best placed to advance art forms and challenge received ideas – and that’s artists. We have to start with the art.

Now there’s a cause we can ALL get behind.