T.I. is a rapper, actor, author, fashion designer and all-around icon. With several classic albums under his belt, and a critically-lauded acting career, he seems unstoppable. The grand chief of Grand Hustle talked to AllHipHop.com exclusively about his Hustle Gang mixtape G.D.O.D., lyrical responsibility, and that $75 Million Dollar Deal.
AllHipHop.com: Tell us about the tape, what you got going on?
T.I.: The tape, man, it’s gon’ be the hottest s**t out right now. I’m extremely proud of it. I feel like it was a collective effort. Everybody came in and contributed, everybody is shining. It’s a broad spectrum of artistry on there. Not just hood s**t, not just club s**t, not just creative s**t, it’s a wide display of talent on there. And everybody sound hungry, everybody sound like they want it. They don’t sound entitled, they don’t sound like they already made it, everybody on there, including myself sound like I want mine and anybody standing in the way of it, fina get f***ed up.
AllHipHop.com: What was the thought process behind putting this mixtape together?
T.I.: Go. Let’s go. I announced it about a month ago. The whole project was put together in that amount of time.
AllHipHop.com: What’s the meaning of the title?
T.I.: G.D.O.D. Get Dough or Die [Download]. I mean that. Ain’t nobody around me meant to live broke. We gon’ live by that, we gon’ die by that. Ain’t nobody gon’ out hustle us, cuz we gon’ put our life on the line for it.
AllHipHop.com: So, what’s next for Grand Hustle?
T.I.: Well, we got artists right now with singles out. We got Dro with the FDB (F** Dat B**ch) campaign tearing up Atlanta right now. We got Travis Scott just put out his record “Upper Echelon,” me and 2 Chainz about to shoot that video tomorrow. For real, we wanna be the deepest crew in the game. We wanna have the most hit records, we wanna be on the most tours, we got pop acts, we got urban acts. We got s**t worthy of attention. So, while you cutting checks? Keep us in mind. We ain’t letting up.
AllHipHop.com: I gotta ask about Iggy.
T.I.: The Iggy situation, as it stands right now, is only a personal relationship as it stands right now. We talked about ways to really sit and do some work together, but the people over there in her camp are gon’ have to see that there’s as much benefit in what we do over here, as what she do over there. It ain’t Iggy. But, right now, we still have a great relationship. Because I don’t need nobody to shine. I had Meek (Mill), he told me he had another opportunity, I told him to go ahead. Not go ahead and still owe me money, but to go ahead. And, to this day, me and Meek still got a good relationship. I’m happy for what he’s doing, he’s actually on the mixtape. But at the same time, the work that I put into something, if I feel like you’re trying to take that from me, I’m coming to see you. But, as far as I’m concerned as long as she wanna be Hustle Gang, she gon’ be Hustle Gang.
AllHipHop.com: Sometimes it seems, Tip, that a label that has a big star, such as yourself… like that artist never wants to see anybody rise any higher than them. What would you say to someone who has that perception?
T.I.: I can’t wait to have somebody surpass my level of success, man. I’m ready to kick back, because as long as I’m the number one earner, it means I’m the number one worker. On the weekends, I’m gon be working while everybody else is chilling. I’m looking for somebody else to shine, so while they working, I can do some relaxing. For somebody who wants to shine all the time, that mean they wanna do all the work. I don’t wanna do all the work; I wanna do my share of the work. Then, they do their share of the work and we all meet at the bank.
AllHipHop.com: I’ve heard the rumors that you’re shopping for a 75 Million Dollar deal. Is this mixtape a part of that? Are you shopping for a deal that size?
T.I.: Yeah, absolutely. This is definitely a piece of that puzzle. I went and sat down with all the distributors and it’s a very, very small world these days. I met with my current partner, or should I say, ever so respectfully, my former partner at Atlantic, or Warner, I sat down with them, I sat down with Sony, I sat down with Universal. It’s a concise message all the way around, everybody wanna be in business, don’t nobody wanna pay. Nobody wants to give me what I feel like I deserve. Aight, cool. This is what I say to them, I’ll keep what I got to myself. I’ll do this s**t independent, I’ll Master P this mother**ker to death. The type of money they’re talking about putting up, I can get that on my own, putting a record out independently, making 85% of it, and owning my masters. Artists like me, man, for a record company to think they are signing me, that’s their first f**k up. You gotta look at me like you’re going into business with a multi-media company. From music, publishing, movies, television, fashion… I already have so many different areas. I’m earning millions of dollars in 6, 7 different areas. I’m already a multi-million dollar company. So, you think I’m gon’ let you go into business with me, and get part of that for anything less than 8 figures?