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Advocates turn to crowdfunding to produce pro-Beltline rail hip-hop video

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With less than two weeks until MARTA votes on $2.5B in tax spending, Beltline transit activists are getting antsy

A photo and a rendering of what the Beltline would look like with light rail.
An early look at how the Beltline might appear when fully realized.
Atlanta Development Authority

It’s no OutKast, but, love it or hate it, this new hip-hop track is about as Atlanta 2018 as it gets.

Written by high school history teacher and entertainer Kimying Kim, the untitled song—and its work-in-progress music video—acts as a call to action, rallying support for a light rail loop along the Atlanta Beltline.

On October 4, MARTA’s board of directors is slated to vote on a spending plan for some $2.5 billion in tax cash collected via the More MARTA program, which was approved by Atlanta voters in a 2016 referendum.

How the board opts to divvy up that money has been the subject of a heated debated that, more or less, pins two massive transit ideas against one another: As many perceive it, the situation boils down to full Beltline rail versus the Clifton Corridor, a light rail line that would connect MARTA’s Lindbergh station to Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So Kim has taken to the web to try to crowdfund backing for his pro-Beltline rail music video, with hopes that he can complete it and make it go “ATL viral” before next month’s vote.

“It’s a music video that we plan to go ATL viral, to get the people to push back against the Marta board’s very flawed plans to use taxpayer’s money to build rail that doesn’t serve most of the constituents who will pay for it, for the next 40 years,” Kim says, referring to a piece of the Clifton Corridor that’s not part of Atlanta, on a GoFundMe page.

Right now, the MARTA board’s proposed project list calls for seven miles of light rail transit along the Beltline trails. But transit advocates haven’t forgotten that, when the More MARTA program was marketed to voters, a full 22-mile loop of Beltline rail was a main selling point.

In a video teasing the music video idea, Kim raps:

From its inception, its purpose was rail / To move around people in massive scale / They use it to lead us to raise up our taxes / That promise is broken ’cause now they will axe it

Kim posits that, with Atlanta’s population fast on the rise, the city needs to gear up for more congestion and work toward taking people out of cars and putting them on mass transit.

“In the next 20 years, a million more people will be coming to the city of Atlanta alone (2.5 million to the metro area) and we need to plan for that growth and get people off the roads,” he writes.

These people are coming in droves / Our roadways are frequently choked

As of press time, Kim’s project had earned less than $500 of its $6,500 goal.

Unsurprisingly, Kim’s song isn’t the first Beltline-inspired song to come out of Atlanta, although it might be the most pro-Beltline tune.

In 2016, Atlanta-based musician Michaelsoft released a track entitled “Death by the Beltline,” which highlighted some of the project’s more depressing aspects.