During game three of the NBA first-round series between the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks, one of Atlanta’s premier content curators shouted at transplants to go back to where they came from, among other pleasantries.
That person is Brandon Butler who is the Executive Director and CEO of Butter.ATL, a company dedicated to creating content for emerging and legacy businesses. Butler oversees a social media page that chronicles every facet of ATL’s former cultural icons and current trends.
“So we highlight the people, places, and things that kind of shape the city,” said Butler. “Modern Atlanta calls it a love letter to the city, we just call it authentic content, it’s finally getting the opportunity for people in Atlanta to kind of tell our own story.”
Butler also was featured in AdWeek’s Creative 100: The Most Inspiring Talents of 2021. It is a testament to the level of consistency, and high performance that Butter and its partner, Dagger, has received as an advertising agency that is powered by African-Americans in a predominantly White space.
Most of the time, Butter creates content that highlights the fun parts of Atlanta, pokes fun at people that reside outside of Interstate 285, and highlights the neighborhoods inside the perimeter.
Butter has the support of celebrities such as Killer Mike, Usher, and Jermaine Dupri. The fans like, post, and share their content every day. But in 2020, the social justice movement took off, everything that was going on, they launched the Atlanta text line, a number that people could text to get information about different protests, some social justice movements, even stuff like voting in elections.
However, for this pop-culture company, they had to get serious after Rayshard Brooks was killed by Atlanta Police at a Wendy’s on University Avenue on June 13, 2020.
“You know, when the Rashard Brooks shooting happened, I actually knew people in line at Wendy’s that night, and they were actually sending me videos live from the event to my person texting, texting them, to me, not even DM-ing them,” Butler said. “And so that was when it kind of struck to me, that’s when it hit home, these things were coming even to my personal doorstep that I was going to have to process.
Butler said he wanted Butter to be a source of truth during times of crisis.
“And I remember the next morning, I called an emergency meeting with the team. And, once again, I was shook up a little bit, because again, like, how do you talk about something like that,” Butler explained. “We have an obligation to talk about certain things that are going on, but also we’re not in this for popularity. But, we don’t want to ignore it. And so we had a really interesting conversation, because I have a very diverse team, all types of folks on the team, and they all came in, we all came together. And I said, ‘What I don’t want to do is come up with a template on how we’re going to handle police shootings.’”
Butler spent one year at Morehouse before attaining his Bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern. He’d later get his MBA from Georgia Tech. Also, Butler is the father of a nine-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son. He says having children forced him to move with patience and intentionality and it forced him to carry those lessons into the board room.
“I always say, there’s intention and attention,” Butler explained. “So you move with intention for the future, we’re paying attention about the present, right? And with having kids, I think that’s the ultimate manifestation of that, right? We do things with our kids now, with the intention of who they’re going to be when they grow up and get older. And I think even with Butter, again, one thing we always talk about is moving content at the speed of culture. And we move quickly, but we move with intention behind it. So a lot of that just comes from being patient, it comes from knowing when we want to say something and when to fall back.”
Anyone can’t put a bow on a conversation regarding Atlanta’s current cultural impact, without having a conversation on who belongs on the city’s rap Mount Rushmore. When Andre 3000 said ‘The South Got Somethin’ To Say’ at the 1995 Source Awards, he ascended to mythical status.
Butler says both members of OutKast have their own spaces on high. However, his other submissions would call attention to contributions from artists who aren’t commonly mentioned.
“You have to put Dre and Big on there, they deserve their own spaces,” said Butler. “And then I think, folks like Jermaine Dupri and like what JD did for Atlanta and then, go a little bit further… I don’t know if you can fit TLC on there. But, I think what they did for music more than just rap, what they did for women’s music. I’ll be a little intentional and I know it’s a very crowded Mount Rushmore, but I really want to give TLC their flowers.”
He also credited Ludacris for pushing the culture forward and placed him on Mount Rushmore. Lastly, in an ode to how we met at the Hawks playoff game, Butler places Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Hawks public address announcer and radio legend, Ryan Cameron on the mountain.
“And I know he’s not in music, but, Ryan has done a lot for just giving a lot of artists a platform in general,” Butler explained. “What Ryan Cameron did as a radio host over the years at every major station in Atlanta … It’s people like him that have also opened the doors and given a lot of the other folks that we look up to a platform and like their first shot. My Mount Rushmore is going to be a little bit different.”
Butler says Butter.ATL comes from a real authentic place and is working hard to preserve the culture of Atlanta while giving a platform to people and voices that are really making things happen in the city.
“It all comes from a place of really caring about the city and just wanting to put Atlanta in the best light possible because we know what the city is really about.”