What You Know?

The hit single “What You Know” done by TI or “The King” has attracted lots of attention from fans and viewers. The song won multiple awards including a Grammy. The song is primarily associated with “husltlin” and making money in the projects (jects). The song focuses on the appeal of the successful rapper and his struggle to get out of the projects. By selling drugs seems to be the ideal method because of the instant gratification. Rap music in general can provide a pretty provocative message to today’s youth whether black or white. It is concerning that we provide music awards to the talented artists when the country is in such shambles dealing with the Mexico- US border. The cartels are killing approximately 8 people per day in Ciudad Juarez alone and we are promoting record sales for pop stars rapping about the movement of contraband once it reaches the other side of the border. It is no doubt that the music is good, however, the sub-culture of hip-hop has taken on the fierce identity of rap that promotes violence, drug selling and degradation of women.
At the beginning of the song TI is talking about keys (kilos), his Shawty (girl) and his Louis (Vuitton) nap sack where he is holding all his work (drugs) at. This is not only promoting the sale of drugs or use of women to harbor your drugs but it conveys the idea to the audience that you will get paid in a hyper masculine tone. The purpose of the song isn’t to just listen to TI about how much money he made last year but it is to promote the government resisting class that goes against the grain to make ends meet. This type of social institution is a repressive state apparatus. The condoning of violence, the trafficking of drugs and disrespect towards women might just be a ploy to make money. TI wouldn’t just stop there, the whole song might as well be a solicitation to the rich drug dealer. In his first verse he talks about “Ridin’ in shiny cars” and “Walk in designer malls” which illustrates the frivolousness of shopping and being a rich drug dealer. According to Raymond Williams I would say that the song fits into the third definition of culture, which is the signifying practices. Since the content is so pop-music based it hardly imitates something in the intellectual or spiritual realm.
Marketing played a major role in the meticulous selected vocabulary of the song. The song makes reference to Louis Vuitton, Nike and Bentley Coupe. These huge name brands provide a reference to status and capability. If someone can afford a Bentley they most definitely can afford a brick of cocaine. TI has also done some major campaigning for Chevrolet after receiving much recognition in the entertainment business.
One of the ideologies that appears to be so prevalent throughout this research is the “Get Rich Or Die Tryin” lifestyle, which was also the name of the infamous 50-cent’s platinum album. The ideology that you might actually die in the process of making enough money to live prosperously is not an idea most middle and upper class Americans associate with on the daily basis. It is very positive to strive hard in what you believe in, however, do it without hurting your community and the environment we live in.


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