We caught the 86 Lithonia headed to Decatur
Big Boi and Dre rode the 86 Lithonia/ 86 L bus into Decatur, an Atlanta suburb with a fairly sizable black population. It’s one of the hoods the duo frequently reps in their lyrics, see their song “Decatur Psalm” for an example.
There is also historical significance behind Decatur that infleunces the meaning here. It has always been divided by Memorial Drive into a “black” and a “white” side. On the Northeast side is “white Decatur”, filled with prosperous white churches and high quality schools and hospitals (including Dekalb Medical Center). On the other side is “black Decatur”, which extends from Candler Road, Glenwood Road, and Snapfinger Road all the way down to Rainbow Drive. Historically, this side has more of a hood reputation, and is filled with flea markets, prostitution, nightclubs, liquor stores, and one of Atlanta’s most “ghetto malls”: South Dekalb.
Taking the 86L will take you from Lithonia into the black part of Decatur, specifically the East Lake train station. Though it has since been gentrified and now has high property values, the area of East Lake used to be a notorious government housing project called “Lil Vietnam” and accounted for many murders and violence in the 80s and 90s. It is in this transition state between the hood and the nicer parts of Atlanta that OutKast writes these lyrics.
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