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Archive for the ‘T.I.’ Category

SOUNDRACK: T.I.-Tiny Desk Concert #780 (August 27, 2018).

Sarah asked me to describe trap music and I couldn’t.

So Wikipedia tells me:

Trap music is defined by its ominous, bleak and gritty lyrical content which varies widely according to the artist. Typical lyrical themes portrayed include observations of hardship in the “trap”, street life, poverty, violence and harsh experiences that artists have faced in their urban surroundings.

It’s interesting that the music isn’t really mentioned in this description.  Because it was the music that I was most attracted to in this Tiny Desk Concert.  The riffs and melodies are really interesting–especially in this concert in which he brought along high school students from a non-profit Atlanta Music Project, who put a classical twist on his street anthems, adding strings and brass in place of 808 bass.

Tip “T.I.” Harris has lived the last 15 years of his life on the big stage. Fans have watched him rise, fall and ascend to new heights again, remaking himself each step of the way. From dope boy to dope emcee. From inmate to activist. From reality star and box-office draw to real estate developer and film producer.

Rapping along to a group of high school string players instead of his classic tracks. Without his usual audio prompts, he kept lyric sheets close at hand while running through the definitive street hits “Rubber Band Man,” “What You Know” and the Billboard 100 chart topper featuring Rihanna, “Live Your Life.” He may have stumbled a few times, but when you’ve successfully reinvented your career as often as Tip has had to it’s probably hard to stick to the same old script.

This Tiny Desk Concert is barely 8 minutes long–one of the shortest I can think of and certainly the shortest for a major act like this.  I didn’t know any of his songs before this, so I was puzzled why each song appears to be barely a minute long (he is either using only his verses because he has guests on the record, or he is only doing a verse and chorus).

The first song, “Rubber Band Man” has a great melody–made even better by the live instruments.  But he seriously plays it for one minute (the band plays it for two).  After a verse or so he

kept his set funky with off-the-cuff stories of the drama behind his music — like the time when he found out, after shooting the video for “Rubber Band Man” with Puff Daddy, that his home had been raided by police. “This music was about the elements that people have to endure in their lives every day and find a brighter side and make a way out of no way,” he said. “That’s what this music represents.”

I love the melody of “What You Know” (I listened to the recording and like this version much better).  The crowd really responds to him as if he were a preacher.  Again, this is a short song, just a verse, and at the end he says he goes into the studio to  bring some soul and funk to get you through the day–to reach the best side of yourselves.

He is super polite and friendly and is very kind to the kids:  “That’s a true example that really says that you’re never defined by your environment unless you want to be,” Tip said, crediting the youngsters for their commitment to craft.

Introducing “Live Your Life” he says that Rihanna ain’t here so…and the crowd responds “we got you!”  It’s fascinating that his original songs are some 4 or 5 minutes long.  This one is reduced once again to a minute or so.

[READ: January 22, 2018] “Thirteen Dreams”

This is indeed a list of thirteen dreams.  They were translated from the Arabic by Raymond Stock.  The full book is described that in his final years, Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz distilled his storyteller’s art to its most essential level. Written with the compression and power of dreams, these poetic vignettes… telescope epic tales into tersely haunting miniatures.

I’m not sure why they chose these 13, but I’m summarizing without the endings.

Dream 105
All men get their beard trimmed at Uncle Abduh’s salon by a beautiful woman.  One day he was walking down the street and she came close to him.  He had to stare, but she soon turned into a block of wood.  When he turned around…

Dream 106
There was a coup d’etat and an older man said he’d heard such a thing once in his youth.  The dreamer said he knew who started the coup and he laughed with pride.  But the old man said he once laughed with pride about such things…. (more…)

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