Sunday, October 28, 2007

Eggshell lifestyle

Your guest writer for the day is Dos Noun

I read Skinny's post on TI's arrest for attempting to purchase machine guns via a proxy (his bodyguard, makes one wonder if weed carriers will soon revert to a more gully site featuring gunsels) and also examined the various opinions on the subject furnished courtesy of the links. People say TI is stupid. People say TI loves guns. I can't make any educated deductions on what the cat likes or his general IQ but I will say something that most people didn't seem to pick up on.

We look at someone who is by dint of his wealth or fame is in the public eye. When he suffers consequences related to his actions and we always analyze what they did from the context of our own lives. This invariably leads to condemnation of the person in question as being stupid, self destructive. But that is not the reason why he did those things. Let's examine the matter with an eye unsullied by sensationalism and a with smidgen of empathy.

Ok, TI grew up in the hood in Atlanta. Like many kids in the hood in Atlanta he hustled to survive and cultivated a persona that was probably far scarier than the actual person, hence this TI TIP duality struggle and the like, something we have seen before in Pac and Ras Kass among others. So, short story shorter, TI sells crack, gets caught, gets on and blows the fuck up. He is savvy and has the ability to make commercial songs without sounding like a tool or succumbing to his region's wack music/minstrel show tendencies (not to say that every other region in the nation isn't doing the same shit, but as of now the South has the crown. NY held it when Puffy and Mase were churning out minstrelsy garbage that people reminisce on nowadays as if it's classic).

Life has changed for TI. He used to wake up on a plastic mattress cover when the Atlanta sun had sweated his bed damp each morning with its unrelenting humidity. He used to sit in a hoopty with fifty bones worth or crack in his sock and work all day to keep his lights on and his shoes clean. Now dude does shows for arenas and is a bonafide millionaire. We have seen the cliche so many times that we forget what it means to someone who lived it. He has multiple cribs, fucks models, has a chartered jet and wears outfits that cost more than the house he grew up in. Now this means a lot of things but lets focus on one central point: it makes him a sore thumb with a target sign on his back. He is a twenty something, black millionaire celebrity, who in the previous presidential administration was hustling for hundred bills and day and trying not to get killed.

Now many people want to kill TI. Everywhere he goes young men who live like him see his chains, his cash, his cars, just what he represents and they HATE him for it. They hate him with a venom far more potent than the law enforcement agencies who popped him. They know what he has relative to them and they want it. They can't imagine living in a two parent upper middle class household and going to college in search of a six figure salary. That is alien to them. What they do know is he rose from grinding poverty to get everything they will never have. For this they want him dead.

Following a show in Cinci, TI and his entourage exited the club and walked right into an ambush. There was no attempt at robbery. He and his people walked out the club and got cut to pieces by a group of 'nati dudes firing into them at near point blank range. Imagine the terror of being trapped like that outside your favorite live music bar, the smell of cordite, the disorienting feeling of being knocked down by bullets, cradling your best friend in your arms as he dies. TI's manager, confidante, advisor, and overall number one friend was killed that night. Almost everyone with him was shot. He survived and lived to remember a cardinal rule: Whenever you get off your flight at a new city one of the first things you do is search a contact who can provide you with automatic firearms that you will need several times year to survive the walk from your stage to your car.

In getting popped, his main error, in my opinion was not making sure who he was dealing with was legit. You can't bring your gats on the plane. The tour bus gets searched. If you want to live you are going to need a place to get fresh weapons. Especially when it is a concert or awards show situation where packs of wolves from all over the country congregate to stick up and kill rappers. This is an actual occupation (although it is supplemented by knocking over dope kingpins as well) that 50 touched on ever so briefly. Heads thought he was kidding. He wasn't. Sadat X from the afrocentric classical staple Brand Nubian is doing time on a gun charge. Mos Def and Kweli got stopped after their Pittsburgh show in 1998 that most on this blog attended. The cops found 45's and glocks in their car. When it comes down to playing by our rules and dying or their own and getting knocked, most rappers prefer some jail to certain death. Where's the common sense in not doing so?

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