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Straight Outta Stankonia - Greenbriar and Lenox Square malls

I take my time cruising 'round the city malls

And under my seat for you suckers is your final curtains call

— "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik," Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994)

On a mid-March afternoon, two construction workers walk past Lenox Mall's valet as cars crawl through the full lot. Breaking the near-silence outside, one says, "I'm just trying to live." They pass the first-ever Georgia location of gourmet cupcake shop Sprinkles, which sells flavors like Cuban coffee for $42 a dozen, and stop at the site of a new Cheesecake Factory coming this spring.

Twenty miles southwest, teens gather after school at Greenbriar Mall, where the local Delta Sigma Theta alumni chapter also leases an office space. While mall traffic across the nation has slowed since the '90s and early aughts, Greenbriar's crowd still hints of why both aspiring and veteran rappers used to meet, sell music, and host events at malls — to be seen by as broad of an audience as possible.

Both Greenbriar and Lenox Square malls hold crucial places in local hip-hop lore. Big Boi and Andre 3000's friendship was solidified thanks to Lenox, where they bumped into each other at the Ralph Lauren store and ended up taking MARTA home together in high school.

In 2003, Ludacris recreated the car show he frequently saw at Greenbriar for his "Diamond in the Back" video. But while Greenbriar helped the Dungeon Family members introduce listeners to their working-class roots, Lenox catered to rappers' late-'90s, bling-era aspirations as the city blossomed into a hip-hop capital.

Greenbriar has seen a few changes since the days when security used to kick T.I. out of the parking lot for selling CDs from his trunk. New lighting has been installed in response to safety concerns. Still, Greenbriar shows its age, while Lenox constantly undergoes face-lifts to hide it. At a Greenbriar jewelry kiosk, Gold & Diamond Castle, photos of CeeLo Green and Big Gipp flash on TV screens. Meanwhile, employees at Lenox's Ralph Lauren store swear that Andre 3000 shopped there just weeks ago.



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