Back in the early 2000s, T.I. came onto the music scene by proclaiming himself the King of the South. The honorific title eventually became synonymous with the Grammy winner. He even let loose the King album in 2006.
However, an up-and-comer making such a bold declaration at the start of his career did not go over well with every southern rap fan or every southern rapper. According to T.I., DJ Drama questioned the decision at the time.
“[DJ Drama] called me in to freestyle on a mixtape,” recalled T.I. on the Club Shay Shay podcast. “I said ‘King of the South’ in the freestyle. He kind of raised his head like, ‘Whoa! What is that? What did you say?’ I said, ‘You heard what I said.'”
T.I. also added a track titled “King of da south” to his 2003 breakout sophomore album Trap Muzik. That same year, Houston’s Lil Flip took issue with the Georgian placing the crown on his own head.
The T.I. versus Lil Flip feud played out in songs and on the radio. That verbal conflict eventually led to a violent encounter in Flip’s hometown in 2005. They have since reportedly settled their beef.
While Lil Flip challenged T.I.’s reign as King of the South, apparently the Hustle Gang leader had conversations with a few of his Hip Hop predecessors before putting that claim out into the universe.
“I spoke to just about everybody that I had access to that came from the class before me,” said T.I. “I spoke to Big Boi, Andre 3K, all of Goodie Mob, I spoke to Scarface, Bun B, who passed the message to Pimp C. He was locked up at the time. 8Ball, MJG.”
The 42-year-old Trap legend continued, “I spoke to all of them and asked, ‘How do you feel about me calling myself the King of the South?’ Just out of respect. Everybody told me, ‘Gon head, man. Do what you feel.’ They knew I was cold, and they kinda seen a lot of themselves in me.”