Welcome to Atlanta, where the players play.*
That is the opening line on the hook of Jermaine Dupri's song "Welcome to Atlanta," which was a single from his album *Instructions *and featured fellow Atlanta rap icon Ludacris.
In seven simple words, Dupri captures the essence of the city of Atlanta, where a unique history has forged a connection between its citizens.
Dupri's anthem embodies Atlanta's swagger.
With this song, Dupri highlights the spirit of the individuals who have joined together across the city's history, forming an incomparable community. It is those collective experiences that color and shape Atlanta's past, present and future.
In many ways, coach Dan Quinn brings the same mission to the Atlanta Falcons. His message of "In Brotherhood" is more than a motivational ploy, it's the foundation of a shared purpose and bond between a set of individuals who have a common goal that drives them.
As the Falcons begin their foray into the playoffs for a second straight year, Dupri revised his masterpiece to empower those around the city of Atlanta with a simple message:
A history of adversity, we've felt pain.
But through necessity, unity came.
And in Brotherhood, we remain.
Dupri's connection to Atlanta runs deep, and he's had a hand in helping the city move to the forefront of the rap and hip-hop industry. The versatile music mogul shaped the musical landscape of the country by introducing acts like Kriss Kross and producing for artists such as Usher, Nelly and Ludacris, among many others.
It also happens that Dupri is a lifelong Falcons fan, who knows firsthand how unique Atlanta is among the country's major cities and is waiting – like many of the city's residents – to receive the respect they deserve.
"I used to see people make shirts that say, 'London, New York, Chicago and L.A.,'" Dupri told The NFL Network for their documentary on the 1991 Atlanta Falcons. "And I used to be like, 'OK, at what point in time are y'all going to change that shirt? How are you not going to put Atlanta on it? What do we have to do to get Atlanta on that T-shirt?'"
That collective mentality, a sense of something special shared between one another, has become part of the fabric of Atlanta.
What, they thought we quit?
They don't understand our daily existence.
We're from the Kingdom of Resilience.
It's also become part of the fabric of the Falcons.
This season, that brotherhood has been made apparent through a resiliency and toughness the Falcons have shown in winning close games. Despite playing the third-hardest schedule in the league, Atlanta became the only NFC team from the 2016 playoffs to return to the postseason.
"As a group, this toughness, this brotherhood that they have, it's alive, it's real, and they've got stuff to prove," Quinn said after the Falcons' playoff-clinching victory against the Panthers.
The Brotherhood doesn't just apply to the players who suit up on Sundays, however. It's a call to the shared bond that the city has felt over the years. Through the triumphs and the agony, the city of Atlanta has only grown closer and stronger in its resiliency.
It is in the spirit of resiliency that The Brotherhood found its roots. Following the 2015 season, Quinn understood that his team needed a unifying force that would continue to drive them through whatever obstacle stood in their way.
A fighting spirit isn't born in the good times. No, that grit is developed through agony and adversity.
"One cannot understand what it means to be relentless until you've struggled to possess something that is just out of your reach," Quinn told his team following the 2015 season.
One year later, the Falcons responded with a dominant effort and a trip to the Super Bowl.
That is Dupri's message in the "In Brotherhood Edition" of his Atlanta anthem. In the heart of the South, where charm is believed to be the defining quality, a relentless spirit grows restless.
We know the best things in life are worth waiting for.
But we've struggled enough, I don't want to wait anymore.
Further embodying that duality is the underlying beat underneath Dupri's words, provided by Atlanta Celli – a quartet of female cellists who have the ability to take any song beyond its symphonic roots and add a hard core, edgy and gritty vibe.
Creativity and entertainment are part of the fabric of Atlanta, and the two elements are apparent in the dark sounds created by the cellists. It's a unique twist on a simple sound – something purely and entirely true to Atlanta.
Nobody outside of the city's confines fully understands its specific personality. In the high times and the low times, there's an enduring hope that fuels the swagger portrayed on the surface.
When those two aspects merge, the city comes alive.
The Falcons are back in the postseason and Dupri – channeling all of Atlanta – has issued a greeting and a warning to those who stand in their way.