20060405

When I Chirp?

T.I.: What You Know
King

There’s already been talk of bringing the ax to certain resident of the mix hut, pending an immediate defense of his existence. So I’ll be brief (and tardy):

“What You Know” is White Squall. It’s that big.

So large, so unavoidable, in fact, it begs aesthetic conversation. Can you actually watch something happen and not be a part of it? Doesn’t voyeurism imply some shift in one’s ontology? Can “What You Know” be an object of sole contemplation without requisite reaction? Can we observe T.I.’s run for the throne and not somehow be complicit in his regicidal ambition? Marcuse should be flipping his shit.

“What You Know” is triumph of dunces and T.I. leads the parade, scepter in hand, head bobbing (adh)ominously with a Braves pinwheel literally bobbypinned to his skull. The horns read like fanfare; this is not a celebration, it’s a coronation.

But it’s a classic Latin American coup: all guns and no butter. With a See-n-Say flow that spins out gems like “I’m fast as lightin’ bro/Better use your Nike’s bro,” I’m having trouble swallowing T.I. as a thinker given our last princes ran dictionaries around opponents.

But don’t sell him short. Despite T.I.’s admonition of “scary dudes” (The Game’s ghosts notwithstanding), he’s still posting an epistemological challenge. He's poised to let you know what we know is a lot less that what he knows (read: Knowledge is King).

Nas burned us with realism. Hov dazzled us with panache. T.I. bludgeons us with the billyclub. It’s blood simple: “Look I’ll kill ya bro.” When TIP roars “What you know about that?” for the thirty-sixth time, the would-be challenger, already blistered, bruised, and broken, has no other reply: not a cot damn thing.