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For the past two years the silliest topic in hiphop has been the alleged East Coast-West Coast beef. Heads from both New York and California have been going back and forth with cracks about each other’s home base. But while MCs in New York and L.A. trade blows, those in other areas of the country have found better things to do—like making good music. Exhibit A: Atlanta’s hiphop scene. Goodie Mob’s Soul Food provided a much-needed injection of creativity, and now we have OutKast’s second album, ATLiens. More than just some herb yelling over a grab bag of monotonous drum tracks and cheap keyboard loops, ATLiens is a stew of decent lyrics and tight production. The first single, “Elevators,” features a mellow drum track and the offbeat hook that has taken black radio hostage: “Me and you/Your mamma and your cousin, too…” At press time no ransom notes had been issued. But the real gem on an album full of them is “Babylon.” It’s the one true “knowledge rap” that finds the group reflecting on black ghetto existence: “While we rant and rave about gats/They made them gats/They got some shit that will blow out our backs.” ATLiens is a tight sophomore effort from OutKast, but the real stars of the album aren’t even in the group. The underrated production team of Organized Noize is the crew to check for as we roll into the nine-seven.—Ta-Nehisi Coates