T.I. (ft. Big K.R.I.T.) – I’m Flexin’
Have you ever had someone you’ve repeatedly stood up for? Someone you were sure had it in them to turn it all around one day, if they were just given ample support to do so? That was the situation with myself and rapper T.I. I became a Tip fan back in ’06 when he was heard all over the radio asking people “What you know about that?” I fell in love with his flow, synth beats, and edginess. I defended T.I Vs. T.I.P., even thought I eventually admitted it was mediocre. I even stood up for him and rooted for him to turn things around after he got caught purchasing semi-automatic weapons. I bumped Paper Trail like crazy, and I bumped his music when he was locked up. I told people Trap Muzik was a classic. I went to see Takers in theatres. I denied that his “talking down a jumper” was a stunt. When he got locked up again, I allowed myself a period of anger and disgust before I hopped right back on the T.I. train. I then heavily anticipated his release from prison. I stuck up for him on Twitter and Facebook when he had that whole luxury bus debacle.
Then I heard “I’m Flexin’.”
It’s not that the song is horrible. It isn’t. It’s mediocre. What bothered me the most was its unapologetic, “prison ain’t changed me” rhetoric. He’s still using the amount of dope he’s sold as a status symbol. He’s still talking about how his boys will kill you. He’s still recycling boasts.
After hearing the song, I thought, “Okay, maybe he’s just announcing his return to the rap game.” Then I heard his interview with an Atlanta radio station and it made me sick. He showed borderline-contempt for Paper Trail an album that showed maturity and growth, and also spoke of sticking to his roots by staying true to those who stayed true to him: his fans from Bankhead. While I get the whole “keeping it real and “not forgetting where I came from” thing, the fact that he says “I’m not like you. I don’t drive a Honda Accord” in reference to the luxury bus debacle shows he’s far from down to earth. He also speaks of a period where he wanted to be a role model as if he was being silly. Sure, most rappers would hardly consider themselves role models.
Still, the interview and the song, as well as the luxury bus debacle, show that T.I. is a grown man- 31 years old now- who is still acting like a teenager. He’s so full of himself, and has so many people kissing the ground he walks on–that he can’t see the truth of the matter: he needs to grow up and put the B.S. aside.
Yes, T.I.’s body of work is very good. Yes, he got it popping with his hit singles. Yes, Atlanta loves him. But how much does all of that matter?
I predict T.I. is going to keep getting into trouble. Hanging out in the same neighborhoods where he used to slang isn’t “keeping it real.” Hanging with the same dudes he committed felonies with–when he clearly is still irresponsible–is only going to land him back in the slammer. At the end of the day, it will be his own fault.