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The Power of T.I.

Music has been the background soundtrack to my life. When I was younger, I would listen to whatever I was exposed to by my family: REO Speedwagon, Journey, and my grandpa even got me hooked on Willy Nelson for a short time. As I got older and started developing my own sense of self and individuality, hip-hop just spoke to me in a way that no other music did. It touched that part in me that knew nothing but an uphill battle and living with a disability was just that for me at the time. Many people like to dismiss hip-hop and say that it has nothing positive to offer the listener but, T.I.’s “No Matter What” off his Paper Trail CD tells me a different story.

To disregard hip-hop as totally negative would be like denying that sometimes we just want to haul off and punch someone. Hip-hop reflects both sides of the coin, the good and the bad. We can’t let people edit themselves just because we might not like what they have to say. If we did, we might take the one thing away from them that keeps them sane. Of course, I don’t understand what it is like to be shot at, to deal drugs, or to live on the streets because that has not been my life experience. You take what you can use from what is being said and throw away the rest.

In “No Matter What,” T.I wants you to be aware of the fact that even though he might not have to worry about money anymore, he hasn’t forgotten where he started from. He says, “Whether I still live in the hood or just visit” (line 15). It gives me that everyday, average person factor with him.  I’m miles away from where I used to be, but I remember all too clearly what it was like. He doesn’t forget where he came from and if an artist can’t find some common ground with you, fans might be put off from being interested in anything that you might say.

Another thing that he tries to keep punching home is that no matter where you start out in life if you really want it and are willing to put the work in you can succeed. We all have to start from somewhere and life is not going to hand you your dreams on a silver platter without a little hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. T.I. brings this idea home by saying, “I was born without a dime, out the gutter I climbed” (line 6-7). He then quotes another famous figure by saying,”Ali said even the greatest gotta suffer sometime” (line 9).  As if to say that “If you don’t buy what I am selling yet, Ali had to go through some tough times too.”

T.I is trying to keep those that are trying to better their situation motivated, hoping that they might once again put the song on repeat if they are having a hard day and rough time finding the strength to jump over all of the obstacles that they might find in their way. “To conquer, every obstacle, make impossible possible, even when winning illogical, losing is still far from optional” (line 42-43). In my mind that is more motivation that no matter what might get in my way to just see it has another mountain to climb over and I won’t be in the same situation forever if I want to succeed at what ever I do.

Obviously, when I first heard the song, it made me want to go out and buy the whole CD to see what other things that he had to say. Mission accomplished. T.I sold me. Not everyone would take that and run with it but, I did. Whenever, I want to just throw in the towel and stop climbing I just pop that song in and it gives me more steam to keep pushing on.  T.I. is someone that got to the end of the finish line and can say that he came out the other side a better person. Everything that he had to struggle through made him the person that he is today. It makes me more likely to go out again and get his next CD when it comes out just to know what the next leg of his life journey was like.

It gives me hope. I tell myself that if I just keep going that it will eventually work out the way that I want it to or at the very least, get close. Just because you are at point A now doesn’t mean that you have to stay there, you just have to want it more than you want the status quo. Eventually, it will get easier. That’s not to say that I won’t ever have problems or issues, they’ll just be something new to stress over. Sometimes, all you have is this wispy fog of a dream and someday you just hope that it turns into this more solid concrete picture where you can see everything clearly. Until then, you just keep running towards the horizon.


May 8, 2009


Works Cited

Jr, Harris, Clifford. “No Matter What”. Paper Trail. Grand Hustle/Atlantic Records, 2008. 2 May 2009. http//