Hip-Hop Grows Up

By Jeremy James

            Coming from the mean streets of Atlanta, T.I. seemed to have the chips stacked against him.

            Having to endure the violence in the Black community, the rapper whose real name is Clifford Harris seemed an unlikely candidate for stardom behind the microphone and on the silver screen and resorted to drug dealing to make ends meet.

            However, the self-proclaimed “King of the South” turned hardship into heaven, as he conquered the entertainment world with films such as American Gangster and classic songs like “Motivation.”

            Despite enjoying enormous success and finding strength to overcome the brutal murder of his best friend, federal authorities arrested T.I. on October 13, 2007, as he was set to perform at the second annual BET HIP HOP AWARDS in Atlanta for giving cash to a bodyguard to buy firearms.

            Facing a one year prison sentence, T.I. recently spoke with Toure’ from BET to discuss his past mistakes, the young fans who admire him, and the paranoia that comes with being a visible celebrity.

            “Everyone knew me and I knew no one … you can’t tell if a person is a fan or not until the (car) window winds down,” T.I. explained.

            Despite the dangers that come with superstardom, T.I. made no excuses for his past behaviors and used the 30-minute interview to speak out against the violence in the Black community and his position as a role model to the children who come from the same mean streets that he was able to overcome.

            The multi-platinum rapper warned his young fans that going to jail for one year is not cool by any means.  He talked about the money he will lose because of his incarceration and the lives of his family members, employees and artists that his actions affected.

            A rapper who once glorified the violence in the Black community is now realizing that there is more to being a man than carrying a weapon.

            “I must be a man and stand up and accept responsibility.  I exercised extremely poor judgment and for that, I must be willing to pay the price that comes before me,” he said.

            With a new CD, a new baby and an upcoming marriage on the horizon, T.I. believes that this recent ordeal has given him a new perspective on life and he is determined to be a voice for children who come from the same environment as him.

            For many years, hip-hop artists have been criticized for its vulgar and misogynistic lyrics, which some blame for the rise in violence in the Black community.  Despite the criticism, many artists have been hesitant to take responsibilities for their actions as well as their lyrics.

            However, T.I.’s run-in with the law at the height of his popularity has made the iconic rapper reevaluate his life and his affect on the younger generation.

            During the BET interview, he warned a group of at-risk youth about allowing temporary emotions to ruin your life permanently.

            The rapper admitted that temporary emotions is the cause of many his encounters with the law, and the reason for much of the violence in the Black community.

            In addition, he is hoping that his recent mistakes can do a lot to solve some of problems facing the hip-hop community, especially the younger generation of hip-hop fans.

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