Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. (born September 25, 1980), better known by his stage name T.I. or T.I.P., is an American recording artist, producer and actor. He is the founder and co-chief executive officer (CEO) of Grand Hustle Records.
Life and career
Early life and career beginnings
T.I. was born Clifford Joseph Harris Jr. on September 25, 1980, in Bankhead, Atlanta, Georgia. Raised by his grandparents, he began rapping at age seven. As a teenager, he was an drug dealer. He was at one time known as Rubber Band Man, a reference to the custom of wearing rubber bands around the wrist to denote wealth in terms of drugs or money. By age 14, he had been arrested several times. He was nicknamed "Tip" after his paternal great-grandfather. Kawan "KP" Prather, a record executive, discovered and signed T.I. when he was a teenager. Upon signing with Arista Records subsidiary LaFace Records in 2001, he shortened his name to T.I. out of respect for label mate Q-Tip. In 2009, T.I. appeared as himself on an episode of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. On the episode, he took the comedienne to Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in LA and gave her a lesson on how to "swagger."
2001?2002: I'm Serious
T.I. released his debut album, I'm Serious, in October 2001 through Arista Records. The album spawned the eponymous single, which featured Jamaican reggae entertainer Beenie Man. His his debut single, "I'm Serious," was released on June 26, 2001. The single received little airplay and failed to chart. The album included guests appearances from Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes (who called him "the Jay-Z of the South"), Jazze Pha, Too Short, Bone Crusher, Lil Jon, Pastor Troy, P$C and Youngbloodz. The album featured production from The Neptunes, DJ Toomp, Madvac, and The Grand Hustle Team. Despite the album's guests appearances and production team, the album peaked at number 98 and only sold 163,000 copies in the United States. Critics pointed to the fact that many of the tracks sounded the same and that a few were blatant rip-offs. Other critics commented saying, "T.I. claims to be the king of the South, but fails to show and prove. He does, however, have potential. If his talent ever matches his confidence, he may be headed for stardom."
Due to the poor commercial reception of the album, T.I. was dropped from Arista Records. He then formed Grand Hustle Entertainment and started releasing several mixtapes with the assistance of DJ Drama. He resurfaced in the summer of 2003 with fellow Atlanta rapper and former label-mate Bone Crusher's song "Never Scared." His mixtapes and mainstream exposure from "Never Scared" eventually recaptured major label attention and he signed a joint venture deal with Atlantic Records.
2003?2005: Trap Muzik and Urban Legend
T.I. released his second album Trap Muzik on August 19, 2003 through Grand Hustle Records; it debuted at number four and sold 109,000 copies in its first week. It spawned the singles "24s", "Be Easy", "Rubberband Man", and "Let's Get Away". The album featured guest appearances by Eightball & MJG, Jazze Pha, Bun B and Macboney and was produced by Jazze Pha, Kanye West, David Banner, Madvac and DJ Toomp. In March 2004, a warrant was issued for T.I.'s arrest after he violated his probation of a 1997 drug conviction. He was sentenced to three years in prison. While imprisoned in Cobb County, Georgia, he filmed an unauthorized music video. One month later, he was allowed a work release program.
T.I. released his third studio album, Urban Legend, in November 2004. It debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200, selling 193,000 copies in its first week. The album's official lead single, "Bring Em Out", was released in January 2005 and became his first top ten hit, peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100, while the second single "U Don't Know Me" peaked at number twenty-three on the Billboard Hot 100. His third single "ASAP" reached number 75 on the U.S. charts, number 18 on the U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop charts and number 14 on the Rap chart. T.I. created a video for "ASAP"/"Motivation". However, "Motivation" only made it to number 62 on the U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop singles chart. He was featured in Destiny's Child's 2004 single "Soldier" along with Lil Wayne, peaking at number three on the U.S. Hot 100 and the U.S. R&B Charts.
In 2006, T.I. received two Grammy Award nominations for Best Song Collaboration ("Soldier" w/ Destiny's Child & Lil Wayne) and Best Rap Solo Performance for "U Don't Know Me" at The 48th Grammy Awards. That same year he won Rap Artist of the Year, Rap Album Of The Year, Rap Album Artist Of The Year, Rap Song Artist of the Year and Video Clip Artist of the Year on the Billboard Music Award and Best Male Hip-Hop Artist on the BET Awards.
2006?2007: King and federal weapons charges
In 2006, T.I. starred in his first film, ATL. The film also starred Lauren London, Big Boi, Evan Ross, Mykelti Williamson, Jason Weaver and Keith David, and was written by Tina Gordon Chism and Antwone Fisher, produced by Timothy M. Bourne, Tionne Watkins, and Will Smith, and directed by Christopher Robinson. T.I. played the character Rashad Swann, an orphaned high school senior. In its opening weekend, the film grossed a total of $11.5 million, ranking third in the United States box office, and went on to gross $21.2 million.
T.I.'s fourth album, King, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart in the first half of 2006, selling 522,000 copies in its first week. T.I. released "Front Back" and "Ride with Me" as a promotional singles prior to the release of the album. The singles garnered little attention, but helped to promote not only the album, but also ATL. The album also included the singles, "What You Know," "Why You Wanna," and "Live in the Sky," plus a remix of "Top Back." King earned numerous awards and nominations including a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album. He was also featured in the single "Shoulder Lean" by Young Dro reaching the top ten on the U.S. Hot 100 and #1 on the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Rap Tracks.
T.I. at the 2006 Summer Jam concert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
"What You Know" won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance and was nominated for Best Rap Song at the 49th Grammy Awards. Also that year, T.I. collaborated with Justin Timberlake for "My Love," which proved to be a worldwide hit, and won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration with Justin Timberlake at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards and also won Best Male Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards for the second straight time. He then served as a featured performer on "We Takin' Over" by DJ Khaled also featuring Akon, Fat Joe, Rick Ross, Birdman and Lil Wayne.
T.I. released his fifth album, T.I. vs. T.I.P., on July 3, 2007. The first single from the album was "Big Things Poppin' (Do It)," which was produced by Mannie Fresh and was released to radio stations on April 17, 2007. The second single, "You Know What It Is" featuring Wyclef Jean, was released June 12, 2007. T.I. vs. T.I.P. sold 468,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It was T.I.'s second chart-topper in a row: King opened at number one on the Billboard 200 with 522,000 copies in late March 2006. The album included guest performances by Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Wyclef Jean, Nelly, and Eminem, and production by Eminem, Jeff Bass, Mannie Fresh, Grand Hustle, The Runners, Just Blaze, Wyclef Jean and Danja. Absent from this album's production lineup were T.I.'s longtime producer DJ Toomp and The Neptunes. In October 2007, T.I. released his third single, "Hurt," featuring Busta Rhymes and Alfamega.
T.I. also appeared in the Ridley Scott film American Gangster alongside Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe with fellow rappers Common and RZA. and was featured on the soundtrack. He also teamed up with Chevrolet and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for a TV commercials.
On October 13, 2007, federal authorities arrested T.I. four hours before the BET Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta. He was charged with two felonies ? possession of three unregistered machine guns and two silencers, and possession of firearms by a convicted felon. The arrest was made in the parking lot of a downtown shopping center, which a witness identified as the Walgreens drug store at the corner of North and Piedmont Avenues. Harris was arrested after allegedly trying to purchase the guns from a "cooperating witness" with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. According to federal officials, the witness had been cooperating with authorities since Wednesday, when he was arrested on charges of trying to purchase guns from a federal agent. The witness had been working as Harris' bodyguard since July, authorities said. T.I. walked out of the Atlanta United States District Court after appearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman on October 26, 2007. Judge Alan J. Baverman required T.I. post a $3 million bond, $2 million in cash and $1 million in equity on property he owns. The rapper was required to remain at home except for medical appointments and court appearances. The only people allowed to live with him were his girlfriend and children. Visitors were required to be approved by the court.
2008?present: Paper Trail
T.I.'s suppression hearing was originally stated for January 3, 2008; however, U.S. Magistrate Alan J. Baverman pushed back the suppression hearing until February 19, 2008. The performer later pleaded guilty to U.S. federal weapons charges. He was sentenced to an undefined prison sentence, a year of house arrest and 1,500 hours of community service. In an interview with MTV about serving jail time, T.I. stated, "Presumably, while I'm there, I'll be able to strategize my comeback." He went on to say that he would not "just be sitting still doing nothing". Apart from the federal weapons charges, T.I. found the time to collaborate with Mariah Carey on the "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time" remix, peaking at number 58 on the U.S. Hot 100 and number 36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
"Whatever You Like" (2008)
T.I.'s second single from his sixth studio album Paper Trail.
While under house arrest, T.I. began writing lyrics down on paper for his following album. The first promotional single from the album, "No Matter What," was released in April 2008. The music video was released on June 2008 on MTV's FN Premieres. The second promotional single was "Swing Ya Rag" which was produced by and featured Swizz Beatz. The official lead single was "Whatever You Like," was released on July 2008, and became his most successful single of his career so far, breaking the record for the highest jump to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, jumping from number 71 to number one. Also becoming T.I.'s first solo number one on the chart. He released his sixth album, Paper Trail, in September 2008. The title of the album refers to the lyrics he had written down on paper. Like many other rappers, T.I. abandoned this style of rapping after his debut album I'm Serious by just memorizing lyrics. His representative explain that T.I. wanted to "take more time to really put something down ". The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 selling 568,000 copies in the United States.
The second single, "Swagga Like Us", featuring Kanye West, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, debuted and peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. With the third single "Live Your Life" featuring Rihanna, T.I. broke his own record on the Billboard Hot 100 when it jumped from number 80 to the number one. The fourth single "Dead and Gone", featuring Justin Timberlake, peaked at number two for five weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. During the 51st Grammy Awards, he was nominated for four Grammy Awards, eventually winning Best Rap Performance by a Duo Or a Group for "Swagga Like Us".
T.I. was co-executive producer of B.G.'s upcoming album and making beats for artists like Mariah Carey, Cassidy, Rick Ross, Maino, B.o.B., Yung Joc, Young Dro, and himself. He also executive produced the soundtrack to the film Hustle & Flow and released the collection through his record label.
Late 2007, T.I. linked up with Los Angeles based production company 828 Entertainment to executive produce a new reality show titled Life on Mars which chronicles the life of young prodigy music producer LaMar "MARS" Edwards. T.I. partnered 828 Entertainment with his company Grand Hustle Records to produce a slate of both television and film projects. He also created a reality show on MTV called "T.I.'s Road to Redemption".
According to HHNLive.com T.I. revealed that he is launching Grand Hustle Films. The first project from the movie division of his Grand Hustle brand is titled Once Was Lost. T.I. will star in the film alongside veteran Hollywood actor Danny Glover, who will also act as producer. Filming was scheduled to begin in October 2008.
G-Unit artist Young Buck asked fellow Southern rappers T.I. and Ludacris to appear on his new record on the track "Stomp" but later T.I. was replaced by The Game on the original version. T.I. then recorded a disrespectful verse against Ludacris. Ludacris heard it and decided to fire back at T.I. The beef originally started when T.I. saw Disturbing Tha Peace rapper I-20's video. In the video, a guy was wearing a shirt with the words "Trap House." The guy was getting beat up and stomped in the video. T.I. thought it said "Trap Muzik."
On June 24, 2007 at the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood, California, T.I. was involved in a brawl. During a luncheon held by Kevin Liles of Warner Music Group (parent company of T.I.'s label, Atlantic Records), the MC got into a fight with Ludacris' manager Chaka Zulu. According to witnesses, T.I. punched Zulu in the face and choked him and a small, brief melee ensued.
T.I. brought home the award for Best Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards, and took the opportunity to apologize for his scuffle with Disturbing tha Peace executive Chaka Zulu earlier in the week. While accepting his award, he expressed regret over the situation. "They say it's a fine line between brilliance and insanity," he said, in an apparent reference to his troublesome alter ego, T.I.P. During the broadcast, cameras showed his onetime rival Ludacris smiling in the audience. The audience stood up and clapped for T.I.
The two rappers have resolved the beef and have collaborated on two songs: "Wish You Would" off Ludacris's sixth studio album, Theater of the Mind, and "On Top of the World" off T.I.'s sixth studio album, Paper Trail. The original version of the latter had Kanye West.
According to AllHipHop, T.I. and Lil' Flip had an altercation in Lil' Flip's neighborhood, the Cloverland section of Houston. It has been said that T.I. went there to create a DVD exposing Lil' Flip to be a fraud. When T.I. went to Cloverland with his entourage, he was met by Flip and his people. Then it was said a fight broke out with the two sets with Lil' Flip swinging on T.I. until one of T.I.'s bodyguards started shooting. The same day T.I. went on a Houston, Texas radio station talking about the altercation. He revealed that he had the tape and he was going to release it with an upcoming mixtape, but that didn't happen due to the fact that James Prince stopped him from distributing the tape. It is unknown whether T.I. still has the tape or not. The feud was squashed by Rap-a-Lot's Prince after having them sit down and resolve their feud. The feud was documented by the Houston Press.
In 2008, T.I. was involved in a highly publicized feud with Shawty Lo. The feud was characterized by Shawty Lo's track Dunn Dunn, and T.I.'s reply What Up, What's Haapnin. The song Dunn Dunn appears to question T.I.'s roots in Bankhead. The music video for What Up, What's Haapnin was shot in Shawty Lo's housing project Bowen Homes, an apparent diss towards Shawty Lo. In an interview, T.I. insisted that his song No Matter What was only partially aimed at Shawty Lo.
The beef reached its climax at the November 2008 Dirty Awards where the entourages of both artists clashed during the ceremony, forcing it to be shut down. Two incidents forced police to use pepper-spray and evacuate the audience.
The beef was publicly squashed on March 7, 2009, when Shawty Lo and T.I. appeared on-stage together at Club Crucial in Bankhead, for T.I.'s farewell concert. After this performance, T.I. gave an interview to MTV, in which he stated that the feud with Shawty Lo was exaggerated by the media, and was not a 'beef'.
T.I. has been in a relationship with former Xscape member Tameka "Tiny" Cottle since 2001. It was reported that both of them married. Together, they have two sons: Clifford 'King' Joseph III and Major Philant. Their daughter, Llayah Amour, was stillborn six months into a complicated pregnancy. He has two sons with ex-girlfriend Lashon Dixon: Domani Uriah and Messiah Ya'Majesty. T.I also has a daughter named Deyjah Imani from another relationship.
T.I. was on probation stemming from a 1998 conviction for violating a state controlled substances act and for giving false information. After being released on probation, he earned a litany of probation violations in several counties around Georgia for offenses ranging from possession of a firearm to possession of marijuana. In 2006, after appearing in an Atlanta court on (May 10) and having charges that he threatened a man outside a strip club last year dropped for lack of evidence, T.I. was arrested on an outstanding probation violation warrant from Florida. The warrant claimed that T.I. did not complete the required number of community service hours he was sentenced for a 2003 assault of a female sheriff deputy at University Mall in Tampa. T.I. was detained by several mall Security Guards at the time of the incident. According to WSB-TV Atlanta, the rapper?s attorney said that the problem was nothing more than a "technical matter" between Georgia and Florida. The confusion arose because T.I. was also sentenced to community service in Georgia for driving with a suspended license, for which he did complete 75 hours of community service in his home state. The rapper was released on bail shortly after being arrested, and was expected to surrender to Florida state authorities the following week to resolve the matter.
On November 21, 2008, T.I. testified in the murder trial of a member of his entourage and a close friend, Philant Johnson (1980-2006), who was murdered in a shooting that occurred after a post-concert party at a club. T.I. has dedicated several songs to Johnson, from the single version of "Live in the Sky" to his more recent hit "Dead and Gone".
On March 27, 2009, U.S. District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. sentenced T.I. to one year and one day in prison and ordered to pay $100,300 for federal weapons charges; T.I. had his sentence reduced from a maximum 10 years and a $250,000 fine with a plea bargain. On May 26, 2009, T.I. began serving his sentence in Forrest City, Arkansas. He is to be released on March 26, 2010 When released from FCC Forrest City, he will be subject to an audit of his finances, drug counseling, DNA testing, and random searches of his property. Two days prior to being imprisoned, T.I. performed a farewell concert at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
In addition to helping with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, T.I. worked with troubled youths at Paulding Detention Center in Atlanta, provided scholarships for single parent families at Boys and Girls Clubs, and headlined the Boost Mobile Rockcorps concert at New York's Radio City Music Hall, which featured such performers as Fat Joe, Slim Thug, and Kanye West, and was held exclusively for community service volunteers. As part of his community service time, T.I. has come to a number of middle-grade and high schools in Georgia, where he speaks with the students in an assembly holding a positive message, while maintaining a philathropic view about morals and growing up in the same areas as himself. In June 2005, The Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes Foundation, named for the deceased member of multi-platinum female group TLC, and Atlanta's V-103 honored T.I. with the 2005 Lisa Lopes Award for groundbreaking achievements in music and community service which was court ordered. With this steady list of growing accomplishments T.I. is being recognized as the "Jay-Z of the South," according to Pharrell Williams of multi-platinum production team The Neptunes.
T.I.'s night club, Club Crucial, hosted a giveaway of 200 bicycles to neighborhood children in the Boys and Girls Club with V-103 announcer Greg Street.