ATLHIPHOP.com dedicates every calendar, every conversation, every ounce of focus to the movement that is Atlanta’s Hip Hop, but the roots extend with much further reach than you may know. The ATL scene is vast, the artists span the globe and we’ve covered it all with progressive goals coming to fruition with each meeting of the minds—now we come together to forge the path straight from the roots and straight up the East Coast to be sure hip hop understands our momentum and stays tuned to the frequency from Atlanta all the way to the northern corners of New England. This month our Atlanta visual artist feature encompasses roots to fruit; calling ATL his home for nearly twenty years, Corey J. Oates hails from the hills of Dover, NH and has recently returned to New England via the shores of Maine to be sure the movement we love stands tall. To coordinate steps that prove colorful enough for a visual artist and that can measure the distance to cover the East Coast from top to bottom is a routine requiring drive, patience, and selflessness not forgetting unmistakable talent. And Mr. Oates mastered the collective honing his craft down in the dirty, dirty knowing that Atlanta has been a hub for artists for decades and that the recent past few years has truly expanded its pallet on the scene with graffiti writers, graphic designers, animators and illustrators, muralists, tattoo artists and just visualists of all mediums using all tools, claiming all elements, boasting every muse. His timeline is packed, his network is powerful, his paint brushes are loaded, his tattoo schedule is booked and he is ready to show us the COREYOgraffi of spreading your wings. Taking ATLHIPHOP.com on the road, Corey Oates is ready to show you how he paints the world.
Universal Zulu Nation Roots: The COREYOgraffi of the ATL Gatekeepers
Much of Corey’s time outside of the studio is dedicated strongly to his community by showing up in support to every independent event possible, but also by working diligently to develop the first official Universal Zulu Nation Chapter of ATL, the Gatekeepers with Minister Methuzulah. Though he leaves his duties to his Co-Vice President for now, the chapter will carry on strongly with its every fourth Sunday monthly hands-on workshops that you should check out focusing on mind, body and soul of individual, collective and the movement of hip hop and the Zulu Nation by maintaining strong representations of youth, leadership, light, activism, artivism, self-sustenance, history and cultural awareness for social change. Corey’s chapter minister even strengthening personal dedication to the art and necessity of a healthy mind and body brings his vegan chef artistry and healthy life style expertise to pioneer the 10th element of hip hop, health and wellness, with other key players as they will soon publish educational guides to urban farming, vegan diets and the power of a self-sufficient community. While we keep our ears to the streets for upcoming events for the ATL Zulu Gatekeepers chapter, workshops and tours to spread the light of Amazulu—Corey J. Oates will only help to widen its reach as he is already in regular conversations with New England’s Maine and New Hampshire Zulu Nation roots Minister, DJ King Rukus. Together they will grow the Northern movement and further bridge it to our Southern Gatekeepers to shine the true empowerment of this Universal Zulu Nation East Coast style.
Considering himself nothing more than a doodler as a youth, his abstract perspectives, organic skills and love and loyalty to hip hop prove him to be much, much more. After traveling the globe as an Army brat until finally settling in the South in 1996, Corey carried his dedication to hip hop and affinity for the Zulu Nation with each bag he packed. After serving in the Navy and continuing his nomadic tendencies (aka Yeroc tha Nomad) from 1999 to 2003, he found himself heading from Atlanta to DC to Chicago to San Diego calling each one base until the winds of change blew. His years on a ship sailed him around the globe dropping anchor on US shores around Catalina Island and Hawaii more times than most can even dream and even further to the international waters of Singapore, North Korea and several undisclosed locations. The travel, the experience, the life lessons still all drew his true north right back to our beloved ATL south. And while the time invested in all of the above is priceless all the way up until his doodlebug rose from dormancy, Corey knew that life without art, illustrated paper, muraled buildings, thoughts without colors and sketches– that life was meaningless and that hip hop element was essential for balance. When he finally picked back up the cans in 2012, the hissing that sprayed the graffiti of his early 90’s awakened the visual artist he has always been to know that the rest of his life will paint the world one element at a time. His movement? COREYOgraffi Visual Arts. His trademark? A character brought to life in that first mural he completed after so many years of letting go of the paint, a character that actually also won a comic book contest and is on the table for a new series. A character known as Doodlebug created to channel the doodler of his roots. His creed? Zulu Nation. And his mission? Well, to provide COREYOgraffi for your blank canvases.
Once the colors collected around each thought and each day brought inspiration and determination, Corey Oates COREYOgraffed each step to growing as an artist, networking as Amazulu and committing to hip hop everything he had to give. He jumped directly into three internships as a tattoo artist, only needing 6 months before his first mentor knew the machine could be in his hand because of his impeccable skills. He filled his ink well through a small independent shop in Conyers that branched into Covington Tattoo Company. From there Corey jumped back to Stone Mountain via Monster Tattoo leading him to a brief stint in Dekalb and finally to his self-advocated introduction to the strongest, most skilled and inspirational mentor one could ask for—DTM Flores. Once this alliance was formed COREYOgraffi truly moved seamlessly paying his dues through this ATL art scene graduating from Art is King’s and Mano A Mano Art Shows’ League of Art Entrepreneurs in 2014 working his way into opportunities like painting live for The Get Back 2 featuring Tha Alkoholiks, Planet Asia and Casual of Hieroglyphics (whom he actually dedicated his painting to and delivered personally to just following the event). He was featured in the Small Works Exhibit at the Southwest Art Center, The Pancakes and Booze Art Show and has painted live for events such as the One Year Anniversary of the ATL Universal Zulu Nation Gatekeepers chapter of which he is Vice President. He has grown his pallet with mural work assistance to other ATL visual artist titans like Eric9 and DTM Flores as well. In the past two years he became a member of Azalea Creative Group studios in Inman Park just up the street from the cottage he calls home in Little Five Points where he continued his collection, nourished his catalog and shared a tattoo space with Dan da Creative Genius Flores.
As if the COREYOgraffi of being Corey Oates isn’t layered enough, isn’t diverse and hustlin’ enough, in just the past few months he has been offered an amazing opportunity to spread his wings from his ATL roots back up to New England. And, while Atlanta has said its farewells in the past week with bittersweet biggups—we all know that he isn’t leaving his beloved south, he is cultivating its foundation all the way up the East Coast so that we can truly see how Atlanta shines. He has already hooked up with a renowned Dover artist, B. Cartier in whose studio he will reside and create and with whom he will collaborate consistently. He is booked each weekend with loyal tattoo clientele reaching into the summer and has reconnected firmly with one of the nation’s top sound technicians who provides a sense of home and strong future business opportunities that Corey will ensure reach right back to The A as soon as possible. He did not leave Atlanta without his mark being sharp and noticeable as he will return in the fall for the release screening of a movie he contributed to entitled “White Folks” and he hopes to reconnect with Atlanta visual art juggernaut Dubelyoo who invited him to contribute to a mural just before his East Coast tour launched.
You can bet that Corey will miss Atlanta as much as we will miss him, but what we can all be sure to know is that this does not mark an end, it marks a massive continuation of what Atlanta has built for Corey J. Oates, what he has built for Atlanta. Corey J. Oates, Atlanta is proud of your growth and movement and we know that you have not finished leaving your mark on our southern pride– so we will be sure to just try to keep up with your COREYOgraffi.
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