“Dead and Gone” by T.I. (ft. Justin Timberlake)
T.I. was unfortunate enough to have witnessed the murder of his best friend. In terms of the psychological toll, that tragedy was compounded by the fact that Tip actually feels said bullets were meant for him as opposed to his buddy, Philant Johnson (aka “Big Phil”).
Needless to say, those kinds of incidents cause you to reflect. And it is that emotion which the creators of this song wanted to capitalize on, if you will. Also, keep in mind that T.I. is one of the more conscious and intellectual emcees. So when you combine all of these factors, we get a song like “Dead and Gone”.
The bulk of the first verse is dedicated to the concept of street pride. This is the kind of machismo that causes young men to put themselves into potentially deadly situations which, in the grand scheme of things, could be avoided.
These are the types of murders which occur due to “dope money”, “dice game(s)” and “ordinary ‘hood sh*t”, such as a petty contest of words, as the vocalist goes through earlier in the verse. These situations are volatile because, as he later notes, such individuals have been socialized to resort to gun violence when things get heated. Or it can be over something as random, so to speak, as gang affiliations. So T.I. recognizes that life in the ‘hood is so.
And as the second verse reveals, he’s able to empathize because he’s been through it himself. He understands how easily gun violence can jump off in the ghetto. Now looking back at it, he realizes how it is a “tragic situation”. But at the time of actually going through it, Tip was so caught up in the flow that it felt normal. And in that regard, he also speaks to death of his aforementioned homey
As presented, it sounds like T.I. got into an argument with a dude and then beat him up, with said dude coming back for revenge and subsequently murdering Tip’s homey. So now T.I. realizes it would have been better for him to just lose the fight, if he had only known what would happen next.
And whereas that may not be exactly what happened, the point is that it was ultimately that same type of street-learned machismo which caused the whole incident in the first place.
But that said, Tip. seems to allude to the notion that he’s a perpetual target. And that’s because if he loses his temper and assaults someone, then they can turn around and sue him. Or if he resorts to the gat, then he’s definitely going to jail. So either way, it’s like his haters have something to gain.
“Dead and Gone”
Now concerning the title and where all of this is leading to, that’s reserved for the bridge and chorus. And what the vocalist(s) is saying, comprehensively, is that he’s turned over a new leaf. The way he has done so, most simply put, is by pledging not to get into any pride-based ‘hood beef, like that illustrated above.
Making this pledge is also helping him come to grips with related “mistakes” he’s made along the way, including presumably the events that led to the aforementioned murder.
So most simply put, this is actually a song of repentance. Of course the verses are still laced with machismo nonetheless, as in T.I. isn’t going to come out and just say it like that. But he has come to appreciate just how vain street beef really is. And what has apparently made him come to this realization is permanently losing a friend to such.
“Dead and Gone” Facts
Primary Artist(s): T.I.
Featured Artist(s): Justin Timberlake
Album/EP: “Paper Trail”
Was “Dead and Gone” a single release?
Yes. The song was the eighth single released from rapper, T.I.’s album, “Paper Trail”. January 12 of 2009 was the official date of release of “Dead and Gone”.
Writing and Production
It was written by rapper, T.I, with assistance from Justin Timberlake and Robin Tadross. “Dead and Gone” was produced by Timberlake and Rob Knox.
The song was nominated for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration” (“Best Melodic Rap Performance”) and “Best Rap Song” at the 52nd Grammy Awards in 2010. The other nominees were as follows:
“Best Rap/Sung Collaboration”:
- (Beyoncé ft. Kanye West) “Ego”
- (Keri Hilson ft. Kanye West and Ne-Yo) “Knock You Down”
- (The Lonely Island ft. T-Pain) “I’m on a Boat”
- (Jay-Z ft. Rihanna and Kanye West) “Run This Town”- Winner
“Best Rap Song”:
- “Best I Ever Had” (Drake)
- “Day ‘n’ Nite” (Kid Cudi)
- “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” (Jay-Z)
- “Run This Town” (Jay-Z featuring Rihanna and Kanye West) – Winner
The song was performed by T.I. and Justin at the 51st Grammy Awards.
“Dead and Gone”, made it into the Billboard Hot 100 even before its official release date due to high digital download numbers. In 2009, it was one of the top ten best-selling digital singles in the US.
- Australia – 4
- Canada – 3
- Germany – 7
- Ireland – 3
- New Zealand – 2
- Norway – 8
- Turkey – 3
- UK – 1
- UK – 4
- US – 2
- Rucka Rucka Ali (2009)
- Cute Is What We Aim For (2010)
- DJ Earworm – “Blame It on the Pop” (2009)
- Moosh & Twist – “Champion” (2016)