Hip-hop isn’t short of its crack-dealer-to-rapper entrepreneurial figures, those who have come from nothing to something and want to constantly remind listeners of that fact.
As fans we soak it up – it’s a great feeling to hear someone enjoying their success. It’s commonly the case that said artist has escaped their past and is happy to be leaving everything behind. This is inspirational, and we can’t fault anyone who has made his or her life better. But for some, this isn’t enough. They want to make a difference for those who might face the same tribulations in the future. This is something that Atlanta rap superstar T.I. is staring right in the face.
When Clash was invited to RCA’s London offices for a preview of his ninth studio album, ‘Paperwork’, we were hit by lines like “Crack rock, hip-hop, I done all that”, “Standing at the corner store with a pocket full of dough” and “Had a notebook full of rhymes and a pocket full of crack rock dimes”. It seemed like on every track Tip was reminding us of his past, until we reached the final track that we would be played that day.
Titled simply ‘New National Anthem’, the song sees T.I. peeling away romanticised American ideals, revealing the layers that many patriots would rather conceal. As Eminem’s go-to guest vocalist Skylar Grey opens with the song’s poppy, anthemic hook, T.I. refers to his native soil as “the land of the handgun”, explaining: “You’re dead if you ain’t got one.”