One only has to turn on the television to Bravo, BET, or the VH1 network; log on to the most popular blogs, like the Young, Black and Famous site or Bossip.com, or simply walk through the most popular mall’s in Atlanta such as Lenox, Perimeter Mall or Atlantic Station, to observe the impact of Atlanta’s swagger on popular culture.
Atlanta’s style permeates all social mediums by process of osmosis with little chance of stopping the flow. Of particular interest are the relationships between the beauty and music industries and their intersection with Atlanta’s pop culture and the mass media. Case in point, Real Housewives of Atlanta, the highest rated ‘reality’ show of the wildly popular RHO franchise on Bravo, showcases the homegrown talents of Kandi Burruss founding member of the platinum selling R&B group ‘Xscape’. I remember vividly the song ‘Just Kick It’ playing in constant rotation on V-103 FM back in 1993. The year I moved to Atlanta, I was greeted by two things; the So So Def afro-logo billboard on highway 75/85 featuring Atlanta’s super-producer Jermaine Dupree and THAT song.
Fast forward eighteen years and the R&B is practically a thing of the past but Kandi is still going; aside from being the first African-American women to receive the ASCAP Award for songwriter of the year in 2000, Miss Burruss has become somewhat of a style icon. Kandi, with the help of celebrity hair-stylist and Blendz Salon owner Paula Britton, has become just as famous for her myriad of hairstyles as Atlanta’s own Monica Kauffman-Pearson, anchor of WSB channel 2 News. Viewers tune in to the ‘housewives’ week after week not knowing what to expect, will Kandi be a red-head, short with blonde spikes, or long dark and luscious?.
Paula, in her own words,’ is an innovator and trendsetter’ specializing in short cuts and vibrant colors worn by many local personalities such as Rashan Ali, Atlanta’s V-103 co-host and Jacque Reid, former BET tonight news anchor. Paula Britton currently own’s and operates Blendz Salon Midtown.
Hairstyles and Real Housewives aside, in March of 2012 Kandi debuted her ‘reality’ spin-off vehicle on Bravo titled The Kandi Factory. The Grammy Award winner’s new show spotlights her very successful music career while simultaneously catapulting two artist into the music industry stratosphere. Not only has Kandi dominated the music industry with her award-winning lyrics for the top-selling R&B groups like TLC and Destiny’s Child; Kandi is bringing us fashion with her new suburban Atlanta retail store ‘Tags’, she’s giving us something we can feel with Bedtime Kandi her adult toy line and her adult web-show Kandi Koated Nights. For the latest on Kandi Burruss, including her discography and upcoming events, check her out at wwwKandiOnline.com
Another local salon featured on the hit reality show RHOA is the very charismatic Dwight Eubanks, celebrity hairstylist and owner of The Purple Door salon in historic Atlanta. Prior to his debut on Real Housewives of Atlanta, Eubank’s owned and operated one of the most elite, upscale salons in Atlanta. Dwight, recognized FIRST for his international work in the fashion industry …. SECONDLY, and unfortunately for his reality show antics with NeNe Leakes and Sheree Whitfield on RHOA.
Kandi’s Xscape Band-mate, Tameka ‘Tiny’ Cottle (wife of Grammy Award winning Atlanta Rapper Clifford ‘T.I’ Harris) is also star of her own Atlanta-based reality show, “T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle” on VH1. Similarly, The Family Hustles’ main character, Tiny, features an ever-changing roster of hairstyles that quite frankly, are a show of their own. Where Paula Britton represents the professional side of the beauty industry, Shekinah, no last name needed; DOES NOT. With that being said, the kitchen beautician, friend and nemesis to Tiny is a runaway hit. Shekinah manages to steal scenes right from under the main character (but you didn’t hear that from me). Must see tv includes an episode where Shekinah premiers a bootleg salon invention that involves inserting one end of a drinking straw into the hood of a hair dryer and sticking the other end of the straw into the hair as the dryer hood comes down onto the clients head, point being to speed up the slow drying weave dilemma.
Other trendsetting Real Housewife personalities include Derek J, the handbag and matching pump wearing hairstylist is known mostly for styling the wigs of Kim Zolciak but in Atlanta, he made cross-dressing common, strange but common. As outrageous as his look is, his artistic ability is second to none, he has the gift and his signature styles are on every red carpet in Atlanta. Derek is the owner and celebrity stylist at ‘The J Spot’ with a who’s who roster of clients including Nicole Ari Parker, Tweet, and Kandi Burruss. Lawrence Washington, celebrity hairstylist to Sheree Whitfield and new pop star diva who debuted his new single “Closet Freak’ on the hit show Real Housewives of Atlanta. Lawrences’ amazing talent is currently featured at Prive Salon in Atlanta.
The Latest pop culture entrée of the day would be the outrageous, overwhelmingly ghetto, train-wreck of a reality show Love & Hip Hop on VH1. Now this show depicts Atlanta in a slightly different light, Red for STOP!! The show is extremely popular with local Atlantans so I am forced to deal with it.lol! Until such time, I will speak of Atlanta pop culture positively as pre Love & Hip H0p and then sadly, post Love & Hip Hop.
As an Atlanta transplant, the city has grown on me I must admit, I didn’t care for the traffic, music, confederate flag, nor the lingo; trying to decode the natives was as tricky as navigating spaghetti junction during rush hour. Suffice to say, I eventually figured it out…and I have grown to appreciate what Atlanta brings to American culture and based on the success of aforementioned personalities. so does the world.
Other Atlanta beauty industry notables; Charles Gregory, Jakki Colors, Carol Morrow of Escape Salon, David Fields of Daweeds Design Studio, Maurice Beaman, Vicki Pouncie of Nubiance Salon and Tom Harris. There are many other stylist and salons that I look forward to profiling in the near future, so stay tuned.
- True Or False??? Did Kandi Burruss And NeNe Leakes Catch Fade While Taping The New Season Of RHOA??? (bossip.com)
- Why NeNe Leakes May Be Fired From “The Real Housewives Of Atlanta” (therussparrmorningshow.com)