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“Shah went from trapped in America to Atlanta’s newest star!,” shouts Magic City’s DJ as Shah enters, a greeting the Toronto rapper has gotten a lot recently in Atlanta this past summer. Following a 2016 debut that earned him accolades that ranged from being named one of Toronto’s top new rappers to having one of the year’s Most Underrated Songs, Shah resisted major label opportunities, remaining an independent artist who was mostly off of the mainstream’s radar. This summer a new buzz surrounding Shah arose – but not one on blogs or in industry boardrooms, but one from the streets of Atlanta. How did a promising Toronto lyricist re-emerge in the heartland of trap? There were some blog rumors that this popularity had been driven by Shah’s recent federal detainment when he tried to cross international borders, making the home-grown Canadian rapper a real-life trapped in America story. Unclear if this was fact or rumor, and still lacking understanding about Shah’s path to the South, Complex Canada headed to Atlanta for a few days to find out the truth. The following account captures Shah’s journey to stardom in rap’s current mecca, and also provides a glimpse into the process of “making it” in Atlanta’s underground music industry.
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