The T.I. that you read about in the media is presently the exact opposite of the T.I. that sits before you to discuss his upcoming album Paper Trail. Perhaps thats a continuation of his T.I. vs. T.I.P. alter ego, or maybe hes just growing up. T.I.s paper trail runs thick, including banknotes and legal documents, but none that would call him a snitch. Regardless of the media hype from tons of guns to Shawty Lo and 50 Cent drama to bitch slapping Ludas manager Chaka Zulu T.I. is as calm as ever, reflecting on the past, accepting it, and moving forward. T.I.s involvement with the law reads like a well-dressed crime novel, inevitably forcing him to lose his right to vote. That doesnt stop him from respecting yours, as his Respect My Vote campaign with the Hip-Hop Caucus is currently one of his main focuses, among other things. He even proudly dons a Respect My Vote t-shirt. Besides that, T.I. has a budding acting career, a new son, and a love life that he chooses to play like Jayonce and keep on the low. Lets not forget the album, Paper Trail, available on Grand Hustle Day September 30th a release date that he shares with labelmate Big Kuntry. As T.I. sits back and reflects on the past year, he explains his formula for peace accepting God in your life, and letting your momma do whatever she wants with the house you bought her.AllHipHop.com: So first things first, you know were anticipating your album Paper Trail.T.I: September 30th. AllHipHop.com: Yes. And its been quite an interesting year; its a change for you. Does the album reflect that at all?T.I: Absolutely. This album as all of my other albums is indeed a reflection of my life, what Im going through, how Im getting through it, my mind state, my emotional state.T.I. “Whatever You Like”AllHipHop.com: Many people consider King to be an epic album. T.I: Thank you.AllHipHop.com: In the albums that followed King, did you always feel that you had to make albums that had to compete with it at all?T.I: No. King represented me in that period of my life. There are certain elements in my life that have changed dramatically, so theres no way I can compete with that. I have to make an album thats true to my current situation. Thats not just for [Paper Trail], thats for T.I vs. T.I.P. I made an album that was true and relevant to the person that I was at that time. This albums the same, the next album will be the same and so on and so forth.AllHipHop.com: What would you consider your mind state to be right now?T.I: Calm. Secure. I think that I really drifted business wise. I spent so much time sitting still not being able to conduct business to make a move to take advantage of opportunities so right now Im trying to make up for all that lost time.AllHipHop.com: Now youve had a few brushes with the law [T.I. laughs and spits out the coffee hes sipping]T.I: That was funny how you tried to understate that statement. That was funny, yeah.AllHipHop.com: What would you consider to be some lessons learned?T.I: Um let me see, lessons learned through God all things are possible. We learn that the decisions you make can very well affect your future. We learn that theres no status that you can be that supersedes poor judgment, and you learn that walking with guns and fire is [as] safe as walking with God. AllHipHop.com: Did you want to clear up anything going on with the Shawty Lo situation? Im sure that theres kind of been a back and forth type of thing.T.I: Yeah, but you know what? Ima end that right here. I aint speaking on it, its over for me. I dont want to speak anymore. I aint speaking on it.AllHipHop.com: So its a done deal.T.I: Done deal for me. All my beefs, situations and issues with anybody, you know its been done for me in my head. But if you know what Im just saying its just Im saying verbally Im through. I got other stuff, I gotta bring little son up you know what Im sayin? Thats a thing I need to do. Its real trivial from my angle.AllHipHop.com: Yeah and with the whole 50 Cent snitching situation, you kind of took on the same kind of mentality, though. Like its not worth it.T.I: Im not I mean you know, I worry about the truth and to be quite honest with you, I aint got myself into any situation for anybody in regards to anything that wasnt true. So I shouldnt even be involving myself in matters that dont end and begin with truth.You know somebody can say something about me thats true then maybe, maybe just maybe. I mean I got too much on my plate right now, its just really no time. And Im really just blessed to be here and Im not gon Im not gon slap the powers that be, being God, in the face by involving myself in anything thats just like I said trivial, unimportant. If anybody ever been in a situation similar to mine, you already know once your agreement has been agreed to, its supposed to work with journalists, press, people. You know you can Google my name T.I is agreed with you know what Im saying? Its gon pop off and any of those claims .and [50 Cent] said he wanna talk about it, thats what I heard, but if any of those claims its not even him, its other people like online talking bout, Oh he did this, he did that. If that was the truth, it would be in my agreement, all you got to do is pull my agreement up; theres no such thing as a secret exchange. If that was the case thered be no such thing as the witness protection program.AllHipHop.com: Right.T.I: Everyone knows that in order to get favor shown to you by the government in exchange for cooperation, you have to sign documents, you got to come to court, you got to physically point people out and at least someone saying, Yes I am the person that he put here.And thats not the case. Man if I was lying, people just dont want to excel, but God got another plan for me that supersedes the other issues; my stupidity you know what Im saying and anyone elses opinions. Gods plan thats over all and Im sorry if they dont like it. I think theyre barking up the wrong tree they need to take it upstairs you know?AllHipHop.com: Youre one of the few artists that you know if trouble finds you, you accept it as a mistake and you keep moving forward. But why do you feel that people are still trying to test you then?T.I: [laughs] I dont know, maybe cause Im good looking. I dont know man, I guess [people] get tired of [their] little girlfriends talking about me. You know everywhere keep talking about you, keep talking about you. Im tired of this n***a, you know what Im saying? I dont know what it is, maybe my size, maybe they feel that because of my size that Ima be an easy [target].AllHipHop.com: So how do you manage to keep such a healthy married life you know being ?T.I: How do I manage to keep such a healthy what?AllHipHop.com: Married life.T.I: Who? [laughs]AllHipHop.com: Married life. [laughs]T.I.: [laughs]. Were actually a couple.AllHipHop.com: Love life.T.I: Secret. Top secret. I am drawing from the book and blueprint of Jay and B you know what Im sayin. I see its obviously worked and I have seen the other way fail so many times, and I care too much about my situation to allow it to fall victim to such unfortunate circumstances. So next question. [laughs and toasts with his cup of coffee]AllHipHop.com: Taken well. So you know youre the King of the South T.I: Yeah.
You can call me the King you can call me rubberband man, you can call [Wayne] the monster, the greatest rapper alive, just call the South number one when you do it.
AllHipHop.com: But with the rise of Lil Wayne do you feel thats affecting your title at all?T.I: No, thats my partner you know. I salute, I salute. Shorty just like if I come out and if I say it more than him when his albums released its not gonna affect his title as the best rapper alive you know what Im sayin? Like we co-exist with one another, we have a mutual understanding, respect for one another. I mean I dont ever claim to be able to do what he do nor does he claim to be able to do what I do. We both have our own positions that we play, but our main goal/focus is make sure that the South stay on top. So you can call me the King you can call me rubberband man, you can call [Wayne] the monster, the greatest rapper alive, just call the South number one when you do it.AllHipHop.com: How did you get a song with Ludacris [Wish You Would] after the situation with his management?T.I: I told you, Im done with all that. When I say Im done with that, I aint just talking you know? Im doing everything in my power if I can to move forward, and thats just an example of that. But you know me and Cris have always spoke. We never had no problems we speak, he has my number. I have his. Its always been that way. Ive never known and Ive went at it with a lot of cats but Ive never had such worthy competition.As a mutual respect you know Im sure that [Ludacris] has to acknowledge my contributions just like I got to acknowledge his. I aint never been a hater and now is not the time for me to start, so we aint got no problems with one another. If it aint no beef, aint no reason why we shouldnt be able to work together.Wish You Would – Ludacris ft. T.I.AllHipHop.com: True. Lets talk about the Respect My Vote campaign.T.I: Im working alongside the Hip Hop Caucus, and its a voter registration campaign and were doing everything in our power from rallies to PSAs to public appearances, television appearances, print ads, everything that we can think of to do to create awareness and encourage masses to get out there and become a part of the decision making process. Its special. Its special, not only but especially young people between the ages of 18 to 29 who are not in college because the statistic of people between 18 and 29 who are not in college that dont vote are 93 percent. With this being the most important election of our lifetime and this being the most critical condition of the country and our lifetime, I think for us to not be a part of this process is detrimental to our progress. Im doing everything I can and not to mention I aint gonna be able to vote, so Im just trying to make up for my minus one.If I can make up for my minus one by encouraging one million to get out there and do they thing, then I feel like my job is done. And not to mention man in 2000 man 2000 which could arguably be said that thats the election that got us in this whole mess to begin with it can be arguably be said that we wouldnt be at war, that the state of the economy would not be the same, a lot of the judicial standings would not be the same had it not been for the 2000 election. The 2000 election was decided by under 600 votes, 583 I think under 600 votes. If 600 people would of got up, got out, did they thing we probably wouldnt be in this situation to begin with and we cannot afford for history to repeat itself.AllHipHop.com: Why do you think the government designs the voting system to not include people who have a record?T.I: Im not going to say anything bad about the government. [laughs] Dont get me wrong, Im not anti-government whatsoever. I love my country you know what Im sayin? Im a patriot, I try to be. Im a tax-paying upstanding citizen. I aint got nothing bad to say about my government. I mean no system is perfect, but I think even more so than that its up to the people to do everything in their power to work within the system. First you must understand the workings and rules of the system. Once you have knowledge of that, you now work within the system to get done what you think needs to be done. Now if you find out that the rules are this, this, this and this and you know you just dont feel like doing it, then thats your fault, its not the systems fault. If you didnt like it, if you think it should have been different, you should have been more involved earlier on so you could of weighed in on the decision making process whether or not it should be this way. If you fail to even become knowledgeable of the system and you go out there out of your own ignorance and then you find out in order to vote you gotta do this, you gotta do this, and this you gotta do this, well then you shouldve found out first.You shouldve researched but now all you have to do is go to HipHopCaucus.org and theyll walk you straight through it. Just put the Playstation down for a second, come home from the club and go to HipHopCaucus.org. Theyll take care of it.AllHipHop.com: Who would you say has been one of the most positive influences in your life?T.I : I mean of course my family, my uncles, my grandfather my grandmomma, my momma, my daddy, you know. But outside of my family in recent history, I had the pleasure of speaking to and being mentored by Ambassador Andrew Young. Hes been an outstanding inspiration to do the right thing.AllHipHop.com: Growing up what was your favorite subject in school?T.I: Math.AllHipHop.com: And what did you want to be when you grew up?T.I: This.AllHipHop.com: Yeah?T.I: Thats it.AllHipHop.com: If you werent doing this where would you be?T.I: Real estate, construction, still business.AllHipHop.com: With some math in there.T.I: Yeah, absolutely. I got to be able to add, subtract, divide and multiply.AllHipHop.com: Youre very fortunate that your career includes the math of many album sales and stuff. How do you keep humble? How do you keep going and not get so jaded by anything?T.I: I mean I guess it would be [attributed] to my morals, standards, principles, beliefs, foundation, upbringing, my grandmom, my momma see I know if I get out there, I cant get big headed. My mommall say, Boy you still… My momma say, Dont forget where you came from. And my momma like cause you know I bought I gave my mom my old house. You know 10,000 square foot, $850,000 house. And you know she got a sub zero refrigerator, granite countertops, mahogany wood floors. She still take the plastic grocery bags and tie em around the knobs of the cabinets. I say, Momma why you do that? You know you dont have to do that. Oh I aint wasting nothing, you cant tell me, Ima keep my bags. I know where I came from. But momma you dont have to. You need some bags Ill get you some trash bags. I got trash bags, this my house. So Im like, Alright momma you got it. Its cool. I think things like that, you know, they taught me how to withstand any conditions and how to be comfortable with the most life has to offer or the less in life or the least life has to offer.My uncle man, my uncle raised me as a man, my pops raised me as a man; not as a superstar, not as a celebrity. Stars are in the sky, people are in the streets. My status is just due to my, I guess you know, my occupation. Thats not where I end and begin. Im a man first before anything, and I keep that in mindI dont think Im better than nobody else I may look better than some people [laughs] but I dont think that makes me better than nobody else. I mean Im still the same dude, Im still the same cat, got the same friends you know I still I live somewhere different, I enjoy different things now, but Im still the same person man.AllHipHop.com: What kind of acting projects do you have coming up?T.I: Bone Deep is the film that Ill be starting on in September and its starring Idris Elba, Matt Dillon, Chris Brown and myself. Its an action drama movie, its a flick about some young, cool, fly well dressed, good looking, intelligent, articulate bank robbers. You know, not just your shootem up bang bang, bustem in the bank Set It Off bank robbers, Im talking inside man, Oceans 11 heat type bank robbers. Im one of the producers also. Im looking forward to that.AllHipHop.com: Common was talking about how as an MC once you go through with acting and you start becoming an actor as well, the pressure off releasing that album that makes that hit is kind of easier because you know you got that acting money thats coming in.T.I: [laughs] Well hey I dont know about Common, I cant really Common done been in a few more movies than me, but I aint really got no money like that on acting. Both the movies I did I lost money. I put off millions of dollars, yeah, to do ATL like with touring I put [off] millions of dollars to do ATL for the opportunity and Im glad I did it, it worked out. Now American Gangster did take off better than ATL and didnt cost me as much, but I damn near ended up paying them to do it. But Im not doing it for the money right now. AllHipHop.com: So theres also a rumor that youre in Fast and the Furious 4.T.I: I aint I been hearing that rumor man! Whoever doing Fast and the Furious yall need to holla at me, because I dont know nothing about me being in the Fast and the Furious. I mean for real. I didnt even know they were doing another one. Not to say that I wouldnt do it, but I dont know nothing about it. Do you know what the script is about? Do you know what the premise of the next one is, I dont know?AllHipHop.com: Does it like freak you out where you know youll hear something like that and just be like whered this come from?T.I: Freak me out? Nah its a part of the job.AllHipHop.com: If you had known before becoming T.I what was going to happen you know with people testing you, trying to put your stuff out in the public and everything would you still have gotten into it?T.I: Thats a very worthy question. I dont know. I dont know. I dont know man. If I knew how much hate was involved, how similar the dangers were, I dont know. I dont know, I probably would have. I probably would have, but cant tell.
I made the adjustments in my life that I feel were necessary for me to grow and expand and mature as a man. Its unfortunate that it took such a severe situation to bring about that change, but whats important is that the change happened.
AllHipHop.com: Would you say at this point in time youre 100 percent happy?T.I: 100 percent happy yeah, yeah, yeah definitely. I think Im happier now than I was before. I made the adjustments in my life that I feel were necessary for me to grow and expand and mature as a man. Its unfortunate that it took such a severe situation to bring about that change, but whats important is that the change happened, so yeah Im happy.AllHipHop.com: What would you say is one of the smartest decisions youve ever made in this industry?T.I: One of the smartest decisions that Ive ever made in this industry is to start my own company and lead my way after the first album. Let me see and to step away from music for a minute to film ATL. Those pretty much they standout off top. The best thing for myself and oh, to do mixtapes the first album didnt work, started doing mixtapes to keep myself present in the marketplace instead of just waiting on the label to do something for me.AllHipHop.com: Lets talk about your company, Grand Hustle. Explain why you got started and talk about some of the artists that you work with.T.I: Big Kuntry King his album comes out September 30th as well as mine name of his album is My Time to Eat. Alfamega, I Am Alfamega comes out in October, DJ Drama hes preparing his album and getting ready for a release later this year, hopefully by the holidays, and Young LA his single Aint I is tearing the clubs up, taking off in the South. Hes about to start on his second single. JR Get Money you know his first single, Nobody But You, ladies will love it, its doing very well. Lets see 8Ball & MJG, theyre working on they album weve had the pleasure of welcoming them to the family. [Young] Dro. Dro has just finished his second album and picking the first single for him, hell be ready to go the beginning of next year. So were doing pretty well.AllHipHop.com: Why did you decide to put your album and the Big Kuntry album on the same day?T.I: Well because I figure people will already be in the record stores, theyll already be encouraged to buy music, so why not support both members of the hustle while they at it?AllHipHop.com: Makes sense. So what else do you have coming up besides that?T.I: My clothing line, AKOO, a king of oneself. Its gonna be launching October/November of this year. Well be at Magic, so you can catch me there and Im proud of it. Im looking forward to releasing it and presenting it to the world.AllHipHop.com: So when do you sleep?T.I: [laughs] Ahh not much. I dont know man, the Lord promised me I would get enough sleep when I die, and He promised me all the sleep I want when I die.