T.I. Discusses His Storied History With Shawty Lo and How the Late Rapper Carried the Torch for Bankhead
When T.I. first proclaimed himself to be the King of the South, there was plenty of grumbling from other rappers who didn't take too kindly to the young Atlanta upstart making such assertions. But after successfully defending the crown, T.I. was faced with additional opposition, albeit on a local level, after being called out by Shawty Lo, a notorious hustler and entrepreneur-turned-rapper from Bankhead's Bowen Homes projects.
The D4L group member and CEO would call his more established counterpart's street cred into question, while claiming to be the true crown holder in his notorious stomping grounds. However, T.I. would not back down from the challenge. The spat would result in classic Atlanta diss records like Shawty Lo's 2008 warning shot, "Dunn Dunn," and T.I.'s scathing rebuttal, "What Up, What's Haapnin'," from the same year.
Tip's accompanying music video for the track saw him posted up in front of Bowen Homes in a lawn chair, throwing more fuel into the fire burning between him and Shawty Lo. But over the years, the two Atlanta trap stars would bury the hatchet and appear onstage together at local spot Club Crucial, a move that symbolized a truce between the former heated rivals. Not every beef has a bad ending.
Unfortunately, Shawty Lo's career was cut short today (Sept. 21) when he passed away in a car accident in Atlanta early this morning. After hearing the news, artists throughout the hip-hop community shared their thoughts on his tragic death, using social media outlets like Instagram -- Tip included. The "Warzone" rhymer posted an old school photo of himself alongside Lo in a sign of better times with a touching caption.
"Even through our toughest times I must admit I was impressed,& kinda proud of how well you rep'd our hood,and how much you cared for it," T.I. wrote. "It was a real relief to have someone else helping to lift Bankhead up & hold it there. Can't say enough about how much you meant to the city. Glad we matured beyond our trivial personal differences in time enough to have a laugh about it as neighbors. For those of us who were around & 'in the mix' in the mid-late 90's,we know the 'Legend of Lo' started waaaay before Music. We salute U G!!!! Rest easy,You'll truly be missed."
In light of Shawty Lo's untimely death, XXL got T.I. on the phone to share memories of their war of words and to pay homage to his fellow Bankhead representer.
XXL: How did you hear about Shawty Lo's death and what were some of the first thoughts that ran through your head after hearing the news?
T.I.: Well, I had a late start today. I was in the studio 'til about 7 this morning, so I didn't wake up 'til about 2:30 [p.m.], 3 [p.m.]. And Mz. Shyneka [on-air personality at Hot 107 in Atlanta] was the first person to tell me and I hadn't even pick up my phone for another 30 minutes so I was very late and after that, it just hit me like, Damn. And I think the first thing that came to mind was all the moments we had running back and forth in Club Crucial, some positive, some negative, but [also] just how incredibly passionate he was about our city and about our neighborhood. It wasn't many of us really yelling "Bankhead" at the time and I think over time, it kind've seemed like we both matured and grew past our differences and that was probably the most positive thing about our relationship.
When do you first recall hearing about Shawty Lo?
Carlos, I knew about Carlos before he was ever Shawty Lo. I knew about Carlos back in high school. We was, how can I say, we had some things in common and we had some mutual acquaintances and we did some of the same things around the same time in the same area. He was much, much, further ahead in his establishing of himself in that particular arena than I was. But I knew him before he knew me, definitely.
Do you have any interesting stories from that period?
Not for public consumption [laughs].
The back and forth that y'all had was one of the more notorious, exciting rap beefs in Atlanta. What do you make of that whole situation looking back in hindsight?
Although unnecessary because when you get to the bottom of it, we were both Black men coming up, tryna make the best of our circumstances and using our hustles to our benefit, tryna make a better way for our families, but one thing I can say is that it did bring about some great music. The best part about it was that we were able to mature past it.
What would you say were some of the most intense moments during the back and forth that y'all had?
We were mad respectful. Even though we were going through our things, there weren't no real lines crossed, you know what I'm saying? I think we both had respect for one another, even in our differences just because I'm sure he knew the things that I'd done, I knew of things that he'd done. He knew people I knew, I knew people he knew, so it wasn't like we could ignore the fact that there were some positive, respectable qualities about one another, you know what I'm saying? But a man is gonna be stubborn and push his line when he feel the need to push it in spite of all the things he may know about a person, positive or negative. So we never really had that "Uh oh, what's gonna happen?" moment, even when we ran into each other. It was probably one of the most, I can say respectful beefs 'cause we spoke on the phone and he was like, "Yeah, yeah, I'm 'bout to do this to ya, I'm 'bout to do that to ya," and I was like "Okay, good luck" [laughs], you know what I'm saying?
It was more competitive competition. We were both tryna see who could put on the biggest for the city. He felt that my way was a little too, how can I say, postured, you know what I mean? He said, "The only thing you can do better than me is talk. Once I learn how to talk like you, I got cha!" And I was like, "Well, you better start, brother. You better hurry up and start." But we even shared laughs with one another during the so-called beef moments, so it wasn't ever really really that serious, you know what I'm saying? It was a far cry from, say, some of my other beefs I've been in. Other beefs I've been in where it's all on site, you know what's happening. Me and him, we were never like that.
How will you remember Shawty Lo, personally, as a man and an artist?
Well, you know what, I'll remember him as someone who hustled and took nothing and turned it into something. And when he had something, he took that something and turned it into more of something. That's the true spirit of where we come from. Ninety-nine percent of us born over there are born with absolutely nothing. So as we come up, as we're raised in this environment, we've got to find ways to maximize the potential of our talent and we don't really have people to show us to how do this. So all the things that we learned how to do, we pretty much learned it ourselves, you know what I'm saying? Whether it's gambling, hustling and going from that and taking it over into music. Recording, performing, manufacturing and distribution of music.
I mean, we didn't have nobody to teach us how to do these things. So everything we were able to accomplish, no matter how major or minute, were things that we had to pretty much, things we had to gather the information on our own and he was able to do that independently as a Black man. And that's really something to really salute and pay attention to. So I respect him for that, and also just maintaining a strong relationship in healthy times, and the way he was with the children, you know what I'm saying? That's all the Westside way. That's how we are and he represented that to the fullest and I appreciate him carrying that torch.
See Hip-Hop Reacts to Shawty Lo's Death