“What You Know” by T.I.
Let’s start off by focusing on this song’s title (“What You Know”). It serves as T.I.’s indirect way of putting forth that you may not know as much about him as you think. That then gives him a premise by which he can elaborate on his lifestyle, i.e. engage in a bit of macho street talk and wealth-based braggadocio.
For instance, the chorus indicates that he possesses a significant amount of coke. Also, he’s able to allure women at will. And concerning the aforementioned cocaine, a couple of lines later he reveals, once again metaphorically, that he’s a drug dealer. As such, he keeps a gun concealed on his person. And the overall suggestion is that T.I. engaging in such activities affords him a luxurious lifestyle.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the first verse is used as a means for the vocalist to address the issue of opps. He has quite a few, seemingly because dudes are jealous. But he warns them that he is not someone to be trifled with. And yes, Tip is well aware of the reasons why they may be envious. For example, he and his homeys are moving about in top-notch vehicles.
Also he enjoys the company of females from exotic parts of the world. Indeed even his opps’ girlfriends like him, another fact that has them so angry in the first place.
And let’s say that the rapper throws salt on the wound, if you want to perceive it like that, by further touting his wealth at the onset of the second verse, this time directly relating it to his ability to get women. Afterwards he begins by addressing the concept of getting into beef with one of his romantic interests.
But at some point therein T.I. – himself being a master lyricist – transforms the story midway through, in a way which many listeners may not pick up, to him confronting a fellow male. What he is saying to the former is something like she shouldn’t test him, as he can get violent if prompted.
And to the latter, it appears that dude was at one time his homey. However, this individual is someone who has not lived up to his billing. Or put differently, somewhere along the line of this relationship things went south, apparently due to said individual not being authentic.
So now Tip is letting him know he should cool down instead of talking a lot of smack. That is to say that he has other “people fooled” that he’s hard, but T.I. knows that he isn’t.
By the time the third verse rolls around, perhaps we can conclude that the main purpose of this track from T.I.’s perspective is for the vocalist to present himself as some type of rich thug. For instance even though he’s hopping off of a jet, which would further imply that he has a substantial amount of money, afterwards he’s headed straight “to the block”, i.e. the ghetto, if you will.
And he’s rolling with a crew of rowdy-rousers whom he has to instruct to stop busting random shots. He then proceeds to bring it to his musical rivals by pointing out that he’s on top while they aren’t. Tip also notes that he and his crew are true thugs, not just to types who are doing it for show – so on and so forth.
And before closing out T.I. officially alludes to a beef he had at the time with another rapper, Lil Flip, more to the point accusing Flip of sending mixed messages in terms of actually ‘squashing it’.
So at the end of the day, this is one of those types of songs that most rappers get around to dropping, if not regularly at least from time to time. By all accounts, being a famous rapper is a very dangerous profession. And these kinds of tracks serve the purpose of not only letting casual fans but also potential thieves and the vocalist’s peers know that he is indeed a hard, connected guy.
That is to say that T.I. already has ample experience in the underworld, being someone who even now is dealing high-priced, illegal drugs. Then on top of that he still rolls with the wild, undisciplined homeys from the streets. So it’s like even if you see him chillin’ in a fancy car with some “broads” you shouldn’t sleep on Tip, as he’s nobody’s victim.
“What You Know” Facts
Writing: Gabriel W. ArilloBilly, Donny Hathaway, Roberts Clifford, Leroy Hutson, Harris Aldrin, Davis and Curtis Mayfield
Production: DJ Toomp
Release: January 28 of 2006
Was “What You Know” a single release?
Yes. It is a single from T.I.’s fourth studio album, “King”.
- US (3)
- OCDJ – “What’s Good” (2008)
- MessyPandas – “Work” (2014)
- Juicy J – “ACT” (2016)
- JJ – “Big Hearts, Big Dreams” (2012)
- Bobby Creekwater – “Warm Up” (2010)
At the Annual Grammy Awards in the year 2007, “What You Know” beat the following to win “Best Rap Solo Performance”:
- Busta Rhymes’ “Touch It”
- Missy Elliott’s “We Run This”
- Lupe Fiasco’s “Kick, Push”
- Mos Def’s “Undeniable”
It was also nominated for “Best Rap Song” together with the following:
- “It’s Goin’ Down” by Yung Joc
- “Kick, Push” by Lupe Fiasco
- “Ridin’” by Chamillionaire
- “Money Maker” by Ludacris ft. Pharrell