T.I. and Tiny

Pondering Our Realities Through T.I. and Tiny’s “Family Hustle”

Last night (December 6), I was honored to watch the debut of the VH1 reality series, “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle,” with the stars and their families at Cinebistro in the Brookhaven area of Atlanta. Cinebistro, a movie theater/gourmet restaurant, graciously accommodated the 80-plus guests, which included T.I.’s and Tiny’s mothers, their children, and even Tip’s grandmother.

Upon his entry into the building, Tip lovingly hugged his family and friends, and his children were welcomed with hugs and words of congratulations. The first impression I got is that this is a very close and affectionate family. I observed Tip often standing near his mother-in-law with his arm around her. He is obviously very concerned about his family, and that includes more than his immediate family, but his extended family, and business associates as well.

As I watched the introduction, which explained the difficult process of Tip’s release from federal custody in recent months, I found it hard to watch. To see Tiny getting her hair and makeup done in preparation to see her husband outside of prison for the first time – then, to spend a few hours with him before he entered a halfway house and didn’t come back home for almost another month – I truly realized and appreciated Tiny as a long-suffering wife who has endured a lot for her relationship, yet it is evident how deeply she loves her husband. Unfortunately, stories like hers are all too common in these modern times.

As I watched the show premiere, one of my earliest thoughts was, “Well, they aren’t the Cosbys.” But, honestly, T.I. and Tiny are probably one of the better representations of African-American married life in today’s media. While they are a blended family – she has a daughter, and he has three children from previous relationships – the two of them are married and share two sons by blood. Both Tip and Tiny are successful in their own right, with interests in music, television, and films. In fact, Tip shared with me that, “it’s just an honor to be able to share success and create success with my family.” He added, “We’re together, we strong, and an example and representation of Black families in America.”

As divorce rates continue to rise in America, the age of first-time marrieds has risen, and over 40 percent of African-American women currently unmarried. Single parenthood has left scores of mothers with children from previous relationships, a fact that has recently influenced the scripted BET television series, “Reed Between the Lines,” and previously, shows like the Will Smith-produced “All Of Us.” Like it or not, blended families like Tip and Tiny’s are more of our norm in 2011 – if we are married at all.

The kids are the most compelling and interesting members of “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle;” like their famous dad, they are funny and sincere by nature. The most talked about part of the show was when Tip was in route to rehearse for his BET Hip Hop Awards appearance, his first appearance since being released from prison. He had to choose between arriving on time and seeing his son, Domani, play in his football game. After a brief deliberation, Tip asked his driver to turn the car around. In the theater as we watched the scene unfold, his family burst into applause, and my first thought was, ‘I wonder how many times in the past he would have just kept going?’

“T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle” appears to be a great show that explores what one of the prevailing versions of what it means to be an African-American, modern family. The past few years have shown that they’re clearly not perfect, but in the midst of their imperfections, we just may learn something about keeping it real and keeping it all love.

“T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle” airs Mondays at 9pm on VH1. Follow T.I. at @Tip and Tiny at @TinyMajorMama. Follow AllHipHop.com senior contributing writer, Biba Adams, on Twitter at @BibatheDiva.

  • Definitely more realer than the Cosby’s.

    • churchboy2

      How was the Cosby’s not real? Perhaps not your reality but real nonetheless. There are loving black families with two professionally successful parents who do not allow their kids to walk all over them. How is that not real?

      Hip-hop has (unfortunately) messed up people’s understanding of what is “real”. SMH

      • “MORE REALER”…never said Cosby’s wasn’t real or was fake.
        More realer , or more common , is a family broken up when another brother couldn’t hold his tongue.

        Parents lost to prison , happens more than both parents graduating college & living professional lives, in an upscale area….kids in college , & no one has been robbed, shot, stabbed or locked up over some boolchet.

        If you look around & see more black families like the Cosby’s , you are blessed.

        If you see unwed mother’s, or wives & husband’s with kids from previously failed relationships , etc., instead of the Huxtable’s , then this show is realer.

        Bill Cosby is a pioneer & doesn’t get the credit he deserves. ( Harry Belafonte 2 )
        Times have changed though , back when Cosby’s came out , it was accurate , today???? I just don’t see the Cosby’s….not around here.

        Going to the corner store ca get real ugly if you can’t ” CARRY YOUR OWN SKIN!”

        Even the Fresh Prince of Bel Air , is from a broken home , got into beef , jacked, jerked , beat up , played.

        Cosby >>> Fresh Prince>>>Family Hustle

        Bottom line = We going down Hill ( Fast )

      • MrTroyMercy

        I think this family is realer than a Bey and Jay type ordeal . They didn’t put the kids in the spotlight and she was their for T.I , from day one . Hell Tiny don’t want the spotlight …this is a good show concept to show the struggles of a succeful, yet modern family .

        Ain’t no family as perfect as the cosby’s or Banks …People struggle when they have income . Life is life.

      • churchboy2

        Putting your family in a reality series is NOT avoiding the spotlight.

      • TheBoxcarHobo

        Its not about hip hop though, truth of the matter is more often than not black people arent afforded the same opportunities as our white counterparts, so its extraordinary to see a doctor and lawyer combination in one family. The Cosby’s were far from the normal average everyday black family. Even successful families are blended nowadays. It was a cool show, depicting a close to pefect, ideal black family, but it wasn’t an accurate depiction of the common American black family.

      • churchboy2

        Cosby was NEVER trying to show the normal average black family.

        But do not get me started on black people and (missed) opportunities. When I take my own children to the library on a Saturday afternoon, guess how many black people I see there? Yep, just me and my kids.

        Sure, not everyone has the same cards dealt to them, but in search of the fast life few fully explore ALL of the opportunites that ARE available.

        I have nothing against T.I. per se, I just resent people tearing down Cosby when his efforts did far more for Black people than any “reality” show based on a rapper will ever do.

        And let’s be “real” for a moment, these “reality” shows are done strictly for the money. No one is remotely aspiring to the lofty goals that Cosby set for his show. 

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  • JustUs Samuel

    Rad…. Well done T.I.P to all my stand up Dudes that are Fathers.

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    Who left the door open, and let this lame walk in,^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  • i love tiny an ti

  • they make a good couple

  • I wanna see this nigga stay outta jail long enough to be a great father before I applaud him for it. I know black men who have not stepped foot in a jail cell and are there for their kids day in and day out. No bullshit ass excuses.

  • Shelley – Ann Huggins

    I love T.I. I love that he can front the “gangsta” persona and still be a loving family man. I love the way he treats with his wife! She clearly loves him. He’s very lucky. Hopefully he will be better at keeping himself in check from now on.

  • Breakdabars

    I really don’t think this is the best of black families. I know we are going through struggles and are families are not as together as other peoples. But I’m pretty sure their is a better representation of a black family than T.I and Tiny, no hate

  • juju4

    i like the show, t.i. and tiny. i used to love xscape! but the one thing that bothers me is when bi-racial people don’t “represent” being bi-racial. many times as with alicia keys, haley berry and even obama…bi-racial people don’t claim themselves as bi-racial. in today’s society being bi-racial is very common and many times in these situations the white parent is most prevalent. it bothered me when T.I. told major he is a black man, why didn’t he explain that his mother is bi-racial. as seen on the this show and “tiny & toya” tiny is very close with her white mother and yet it isn’t mentioned with Major asks why he is light skinned. when haley berry won the big award it was “the first black woman to win” when obama was elected president it was “the first black president”. there are many kids that could relate and maybe understand themselves better if these celebrities represented themselves for who they really are.