King or not, T.I. essentially gets bottom billing on his single “Swagger Like Us,” which also features Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Jay-Z. Ridiculous, right? And yet Mr. Candle Guy still steals the scene.
Kanye sports a memorable line or two, with: “I know I got it first / I’m Christopher Columbus, y’all just the pilgrims.” But with the mixtape-style beat he jacked from M.I.A., the producer still comes off a bit lackluster. Meanwhile Jay-Z just raps about stacks of money (“Can’t wear skinny jeans ’cause my knots don’t fit”), and Lil Wayne is still using that effing autotune effect. Enter T.I.:
You go see Weezy for the wordplay
Jeezy for the birdplay
Kanyeezy for diversity
And me for controversy
Though more compliment than kiss-off, T.I.’s opening salvo establishes him as the ace in this star-studded deck. His three colleagues have their uses, he’s saying, but by distilling each to a couple words he cuts them down to size while aggrandizing himself. If nothing else, T.I. puts himself on the same level as Jay-Z, Kanye, and Wayne — an impressive feat in itself.