Talk of the Town - Atlantis goes hip-hop August 19 2000

1 celeb, 3 panelists make nice to Lang

Atlantis goes hip-hop1 celeb, 3 panelists make nice to LangBY LANG WHITAKER

It's been three years since the Atlantis Music Conference hit town, and several bands have gotten major label deals as a result. The weekend-long gig is a mixture of concerts and panels. This year, for the first time, extensive attention was given to Atlanta's booming urban music scene. Months ago, I accepted an invitation to serve on the "Covering Hip-Hop, Whose Story Is It Anyway?" panel Aug. 11 at Studio Central downtown. A few weeks before the panel took place, the Atlanta Press Club sent out flyers announcing the panel, noting that conversation would focus on the question: "Can a predominantly white media industry fairly cover a predominantly black music genre?" Though I thought the panel was supposed to be about the music and not the color, I went ahead with my plans to participate. I did find it odd that my name was listed first on the flyer. "Come needle the white boy!" was all that was missing.

When the event finally went down last weekend, my anxieties were running high. But it went smoothly. CL's own Rhonda Baraka moderated the panel impeccably; fellow panelists, AJC writer Sonia Murray and Noontime Recordings' Johnathan Floyd, contributed to the exchange.

Everyone seemed to quickly dismiss the race card as irrelevant. My favorite moment: Michael Fields, Southern bureau chief for National Public Radio stood up and asked a question about the hip-hop culture, mentioning "one of the Geto Boyz, I believe it was the short gentleman," perhaps marking the first time that midget rapper Bushwick Bill has ever been referred to as a gentleman.

Return of the Fan?: WCNN 680's plans to develop an all-black talk radio format have fallen by the wayside. The station recently announced plans to resurrect the all-sports format it popularized in the early '90s.

Rumor has WCNN trying to woo popular 790 the Zone anchor Chris Dimino, though Dimino has told friends that he isn't going anywhere.

To compete with the Zone, WCNN is calling in the big guns: former Thrashers play-by-play announcer Scott Ferrall's syndicated show from L.A. will reportedly be part of the lineup, with Ferrall making bi-weekly visits to Atlanta to broadcast live.

Twin Peaks: I print a lot of celebrity sleaze, but celebs can occasionally help the little guys. Last week, I made a jaunt to New York City to attend a party thrown by Paper magazine, where I frequently contribute, at Gotham hotspot Lotus. I was assured I'd have no problem getting in.

Isabel and I showed up at 11 p.m. and found a line stretching from the door far down the block. The emotionless doorman told me the line was people on the guest list and to wait my turn. After standing in the same spot for about 15 minutes, we approached the door gestapo one more time before calling it a night; we were turned away again. But as we left, we noticed actor Kyle McLachlan leaving the club along with his girlfriend, NYC publicist Desiree Gruber, who is a lifelong friend of Atlanta publicist Liz Lapidus. Invoking Lapidus' name, we introduced ourselves to the power duo and explained our dilemma. McLachlan said, "Come with me," and led us to the door. We all immediately marched in, right past the poor souls stuck in line. I informed Kyle that from now on, whenever I go out, I'll need his services. He laughed and agreed to lend his fame whenever.

This and that: Designer Keith Brown's website, www. hushbox.com, is almost ready to launch. The site will be a Web-based version of his popular e-mail list of Atlanta people and events. ... If you have a cell phone, check out www.yourmobile.com for a list of thousands of song titles, from Sinatra to Sisqo, that you can have sent to your cell phone to replace the standard boring ringing sounds. Best of all, it's free. ... I'm out.

What's up, Atlanta? Hit me up at 404-688-5623 x.1502 or lang@creativeloafing.com.