T.I.s loving the game right now. While he didnt release an album in 2005, Tip caked up on features with homies, Young Jeezy, Slim Thug, and Paul Wall. In 2006 however, the Atlanta trap-star aims to conquer the market with, KING coming with the arrival of spring. T.I.s not out to melt anybodys snow or ice though, and he makes that quite clear to AllHipHop.com.
Lounging in a Midtown Manhattan skyscraper, we thought wed take it to another level with The Rubberband Man. In a light-hearted feature, T.I. speaks on issues ranging from gay rappers, to Dave Chappelle, to video chicks, and Ferraris. Hes already rap royalty, so see What You Know? bout T.I.
AllHipHop.com: You know, Brokeback Mountain is huge
T.I.: [Laughs] Now, why the f**k are you gonna ask me a question about Brokeback Mountain?
AllHipHop.com: Would you ever make a song with a gay rapper?
T.I.: Hell no! We dont mix.
T.I.: Who is the gay rapper?
AllHipHop.com: I dont know.
T.I.: There is no gay rapper to make a song with, so that question is non-applicable!
AllHipHop.com: At this stage in your career, you remind me of Scarface
T.I.: What makes you say that?
AllHipHop.com: Youre lounging on the couch, just like the scene in the movie when he was in the Jacuzzi. You made it to the top
T.I.: Not yet
AllHipHop.com: Well, youre on the throne as the King of the South what else is there to prove now?
T.I.: Man, you know, just the will to be the best. Its the constant pursuit of perfection. As long as theres an award to win, win it. As long as theres a record to sell, sell it. If theres money to make, make it. Do it, get it and be done [laughs]. You know what Im sayin'? I feel more comfortable being done. Ideally, I would love to walk away having introduced an artist to the industry that outsells me and exceeds my success.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of success and Scarface, Hip-Hop has always been about claiming the throne. Tony Montana had the Diaz Brothers and Caspar Gomez as his competiton, and now you have artists like Young Jeezy and Slim Thug as viable threats to the throne
T.I. But theyre my partners
AllHipHop.com: I know but they are threats to the Kingdom.
T.I.: No threats, I mean like, we work together. Thats the benefit of having allies. No matter how successful they become, theyre not a threat to me.
AllHipHop.com: Best friends become strangers though, sometimes
T.I.: On the real, if Jeezy, Slim Thug [and] Paul Wall sell three times the amount of units as me, Im a salute them and be happy for them. Theres certain people that Im cool with and even if they exceed my success, Id be comfortable knowing that they are in that position, because I know that they share my enthusiasm as far as putting real n***as on top. I know that it would have been harder for n***as like that to get on right now if there never was a n***a like me. I take their success as a compliment. Its kinda like the groundwork has been laid. I made it to where you could get away with saying dopeboys and trap on the radio. [I] kinda loosened them up and Jeezy just flooded the market with the Snowman s**t. Thats what he supposed to did. I dont look at it like its a threat at all. Threat is a very harsh word. If someones a threat to me that means theres something wrong.
AllHipHop.com: There was a pic in Ozone magazine called A Great Day in Atlanta. What was the vibe like for that shoot? What did it mean to be around your comrades?
T.I.: The vibe was cool, man. I knew everybody there. A lotta people who I aint seen in a minute and it was good to catch back up with them and, you know, see people all in the same place and the same time. You very,very,very rarely get to see that. It was a positive outcome. Everything was smooth sailing, easy going.
AllHipHop.com: Pharrell Williams called you the Jay-Z of the South
AllHipHop.com: What did you think about Jays line off of the Biggie Duets, Rubberband man before T.I. was ?
T.I.: Man, yous a real s**t-starter, you know that? You trying to see what Im a say.
AllHipHop.com: Well, when I first heard it, I was like, What would T.I. say to that?
T.I.: He was the rubberband man before I was publicly known as "the rubberband man", you know what Im sayin'? Im sure he was getting money, and wrapping rubber bands around it. Am I supposed to be f**kin [mad] at him? Im supposed to feel bad about it? Im supposed to have an attitude and be salty? Thats what b*tches do. Im a stand up guy. That s*** wasnt out of line. Im not sensitive. Especially to motherf**ka that I know Im cool with.
AllHipHop.com: Tell me about ATL: The Movie whats the story behind it?
T.I.: Its a look inside the lives of five, six teenagers growing up in the A and basically how they resolve their conflicts; how they get from where they are to where they want to be in life. A lot of different scenarios play themselves out; its just interesting how it all unfolds. Big Bois in it, Dianas Rosss son, Evan Ross is in it, Mykelti Williams a lot of people are in it. Its a wonderful ensemble cast.
AllHipHop.com: Being in New York City, a lot of times, its almost impossible to hear a Southern artist on some New York City radio stations. But when you collaborated with Swizz Beatz on Bring Em Out, the single got you heavy airplay. What gave you that edge to crossover into New York radio? Was it the production? Was it your own approach to the song?
T.I.: I think it was just time, man. After Rubberband Man, it opened a lot of people up to my music. [They] were just waiting on what was next. Then when it was [released], of course they were going to be perceptive to it. It was a Swizz Beat Jay on the hook. It just so happened to be the best introduction for that album. I didnt put that single out with specific intentions to cater to New York. It was more so like after recording all the songs for the album [and] sitting back and listening to it, [I said] which best describes whats going on right there and best introduces the public to the album? And that was Bring Em Out.
AllHipHop.com: On your verse on Slim Thug's "3 Kings", youre rapping about, how can I say this... a really good time with your Bun B and Slim. Did that really happen?
T.I.: Oh, you asking me if that s**t is true. Who knows what happens when people be out. It has just a possibility of being true as anything else. It could happen [laughs].
AllHipHop.com: What does wifey think about verses like that and video girls all over you?
T.I.: It makes home life difficult at times. I just try to keep on reminding [her] that this is whats getting the money; this is whats enabling us to live the life that we live and provide the luxuries that were fortunate enough to [have]. She understands that when I explain it to her, but she forgets it soon after [laughs].
AllHipHop.com: What if your wife was in your shoes? How would you feel if you were at home?
T.I.: It depends, bruh. Exactly what do you mean?
AllHipHop.com: Im the jealous type. If I married a porno star, for example, I would be [heated]
T.I.: Then your wife would be f**ked! If my wife was a actress and she was doing a movie with a dude, and theyre playing boyfriend and girlfriend, I mean, s**t man if Im Halle Berrys husband, I would be just like this [Lies down with his feet on the couch] How was work today, babes? [laughs] Pass the Grey Poupon. I got kind of tired of driving the Phantom, so I took the Ferrari around the corner today, you know, I hope you dont mind. I am more concerned about her absence from the household than I am about a fictitious visual; you know what Im saying? Man, nobody be f**kin with [video girls]. Man, I dont. I dont have time. I be working, ya dig? You cant focus your attention on that [stuff] if you try to handle your business, anyway.
[T.I. gets up from couch and takes a seat.]
AllHipHop.com: When you were lying down on the couch you reminded me of that Dave Chappelle/Oprah skit
T.I.: Yeah, yeah, I seen that s**t.
AllHipHop.com: Can you relate to some of his recent claims about fame, like once he got to a certain echelon, the world started changing around him?
T.I.: I dont have 50 Million dollars, personally. I done have a few million, you know five, ten maybe. I never had 50!
AllHipHop.com: Would you walk away from it? He walked away from it!
T.I.: I mean man, money aint everything. What is the profit for a man to gain if he gotta lose his soul? Thats how I always felt. If I gotta be a f**k n***as to get on top, I would never make it. I just couldnt do it. I couldnt live with myself.
AllHipHop.com: I read a press release saying that youve done a lot of charitable efforts, and I commend you for your Katrina relief work [raising over $300,000] but we get people in The New York Times like Bob Herbert, for example, who seem to slam Hip-Hop whenever he gets the chance
T.I.: Oh well, you know, theres probably a rapper f**kin one of his daughters. People with little d*cks have complexes man. They dont live life well, so I could understand how he may be perturbed by the success of Hip-Hop and Hip-Hop artists. Our influence is overwhelming to someone whos not of the culture.
AllHipHop.com: So, speaking of the culture, when you have to deal with the White culture, how do you feel when you step into a room with people completely different from you?
T.I.: How it feel? If Im in a room full of White people with suits on, it must be time to get some money. A lot of times man, I really dont take into account [how successful I am]. A lot of my people are like, Do you realize how big this is? [My response is] Nah, not really. Theyre like, You were at The Grammys you got a Phantom .you just bought a Ferrari You know what Im sayin? It dont impact me like it impacts them.
AllHipHop.com: You sound like a Buddhist. Buddha was a Prince, and then he let it go. Material s**t doesnt give you happiness.
T.I.: Man, shawty, I dont buy that s**t for happiness, I just like to ball [smiles]. I know you aint able to do everything forever. Im just enjoying it while Im able to. I want to be able to say Ive experienced the most I could say Ive experienced by the time Im taken away from it.