T.I. — “What You Know”

Released 2.28.06

Peak: #3

T.I. and I share few common interests. He’s the type of guy who rides in shiny cars, walks in designer malls, buys everything he saw. I’m the type of guy who’s satisfied with my Civic, a twice-yearly mini-spree at the Gap, and browsing for used books. His scattered turf wars bored me–I’ve never gotten a vicarious buzz off the audio-bullying of thugs who’d easily and gladly pound me to an analog pulp IRL, or understood why alpha dogs taunt the rest of the pack anyway. If life on top’s a blast, enjoy. If you’re hater-beset to the point of distraction, a few adjustments to your lifestyle and attitude will go a long way.

But if the winner-take-all stakes of hip-hop culture is an unavoidable fact of commerce, T.I.’s a personable enough gold-medalist to set atop the podium. That’s not to say he’s developed a full-fledged personality, and his attempt to devise a split personality on T.I. v. T.I.P. was doubly misguided. But the half-amused snideness tucked away in his drawl clearly marks the young Atlantan as the Braves to Jay’s Yanks.

“What You Know” is a sorta-sequel to “U Don’t Know Me,” continuing T.I.’s dubious claim to inscrutability, with Toomp once more on hand to unspool the low-riding pomp (derived here from the Roberta Flack take on the Impressions’ “Gone Away”). It’s a beat that makes you feel like you’re driving even when you’re walking, with that doubled-up snare making for one stylish pothole. And deep inside, T.I. knows that the reason we care isn’t his shopping acumen, but his facility with internal consonants. “Fresh off the jet to the ‘jects where the G’s at”? Dayum.

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