T.I. recently announced his partnership with Tidal and Roc Nation by hosting a free concert at Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta. It was a show that could have taken place at any major venue in Atlanta, or a more prominent shopping center such as Lenox Square or Atlantic Station.
However, T.I. chose to introduce the next stage of his career at a place that has become a forgotten shopping center in Atlanta.
Located in the predominately Black community of South West, Atlanta, Greenbriar Mall stands as the oldest enclosed mall in Georgia and was the first location for Chick-fil-A. But since opening in 1965, the mall has experienced extreme highs and lows. The mall has been marred by occasional violence such as shootings and burglaries that have taken place over the years. In 1999, the mall was ranked as the eighth most violent mall in America by CAP Index.
Because of the numerous incidents, some residents of South Atlanta have chosen to drive extra miles to shop in midtown or North Atlanta. But there have been periods of hope for Greenbriar Mall and the surrounding community.
In 1996, Magic Johnson opened, the now defunct, Magic Johnson Theaters and IHOP. Tyler Perry opened his Tyler Perry Studios at a location that is in walking distance of the mall in 2008. The opening of the studio was a major red carpet event that was attended by A-list acts such as Will Smith and Oprah. And Greenbriar Mall continues to be the home to one of the 50 Black-owned bookstores in America, Medu Bookstore.
It’s also a mall that influenced and served as a hangout and shopping location for major Atlanta artists such as OutKast, Goodie Mob, TLC, Jermiane Dupri, Monica, Polow Da Don and T.I. during their teenage years. And that’s why it was important for T.I. to return. Throughout its struggles, Greenbriar Mall has remained a place where Black teens could see the success of Black-owned businesses and also cultivate style.
“Before there was a Perimeter Mall, before there was a Phipps Plaza, this [Greenbriar Mall] is a place where I came,” T.I. told the crowd during his performance. “If I can make it out of here, you can too!”
Greenbriar Mall will need revitalization efforts to reach the allure of Lenox Square or other shopping areas North of Atlanta, but T.I.’s performance and Tidal announcement proved its significance to Atlanta.