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Escape from Sweet Auburn

'My Grandma got a rib shack on Auburn Ave./ If you're ever in Atlanta, you should grip a slab./ I spent my summers doing dishes hear my Uncle ask/ "You working hard or you working smart?" then he would laugh.' On the first album from myself and RJD2 I rap those lyrics about being raised in the Rib Shack. Whenever I visit Atlanta, I never really feel like I'm home until I touch Sweet Auburn. The street that birthed Martin Luther the King Jr. and was once known as 'The Richest Negro Street in America' is still my favorite place to stroll and photograph.

When RJ and I started working on this project I had just moved back to Atlanta from L.A. (Que the Gladys Knight "Midnight Train to Georgia") and in my head I thought I was going to finally pull a prodigal son and return home for good. When you listen to the album you'll hear the sounds of the city spoken back into existence and also feel my resistance to stay. I once told my cousin who lives in San Francisco,'if you go back home for good then the story is over.' For me Atlanta is the final chapter, it's where we go, when we get tired of searching for things to write about and finally publish memoirs about being stuck in our ways.

So I moved to Berlin, lol. Yes Berlin, Germany not New Jersey. Married a beautiful woman and we began a brand new life of Travel, Art and Style. Half the album was recorded in Atlanta and half in my flat in Berlin due to Covid. During that time I fell in love with photography, opening a new way of seeing things and expressing them. I also learned that I have one major regret in life and that's that I didn't pick up a camera a long time ago.

I began taking these pictures in July of 2021 when my Father passed and I returned home for the farewell and funeral. He spent his life building a family business with his parents, brothers and sisters. All the lessons I learned there have made me the man I am today and one day I and my cousin hope to restore at least the name back to its former glory. Who knows I might bring The Rib Shack back starting with a line of Hat's and premium quality T-shirts available in the Gift Shop (shameless plug, but I'm told that's how you start a business).

This will be a on-going project as I will always photograph and write about Auburn Ave. and the city of Atlanta but more specifically the rib shack that raised me. Knowing no matter where I go in this world, I take those places with me. That Sweet Auburn SUGAR, the Tongue twanging sound of Atlanta, and that Rib shack that made me that fat kid who always wanted to be SLIM. -STS

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