Now in its fourth season, T.I. And Tiny: The Family Hustle has ushered in a new prototype for the Black family. On the VH1 reality series, rapper Clifford “T.I.” Harris is hip-hop’s leading patriarch, as he, along with his wife, Tiny (formerly of Xscape), works to keep his children grounded and his family unit strong.
Imparting the wisdom he’s gained through his various trials and tribulations, T.I. is extremely hands-on with what goes on under the Harris roof, from teaching the kids how to pull their own weight with house chores to giving them pointers on dating. Of course, the rapper sometimes goes overboard, like on last week’s season premiere when he brought the entire family along for his son Messiah’s first date at Medieval Times. While there, T.I. tries to give his son some advice on wooing the ladies, but ends up making things rather awkward for the bashful 15-year-old when he signals for him to put his arm around his date.
Last season, T.I. raided his stepdaughter Zonnique’s (member of girl group OMG Girlz) music video and photoshoot to oversee her outfit choices, which he considered to be too risqué and not age-appropriate. “As a father, my obligation and responsibility is keep my sons out of jail and my daughters out the strip club, and that’s what I’m gonna do,” he said. Though his intentions tend to be good, T.I.’s often hilarious antics make for truly embarrassing situations for his youngsters. Coincidentally, those same antics have led the show to becoming a home run with family audiences.
While the hip-hop world knows Tip as the King Of The South, on The Family Hustle, he’s the King of family-friendly fun, and embraces his role as an average, overbearing father who brings a new spin on parenthood. In many ways, T.I. And Tiny has become the modern, hip-hop version of The Cosby Show. While the hip-hop couple is no Heathcliff and Claire Huxtable, their family adventures are equally light-hearted and comical, providing a positive reflection of today’s Black family. And just like the Huxtables, T.I. and Tiny’s love is apparent, and it’s passed down along their blended clan (both have children from previous relationships).
Considering T.I.’s well-documented past with drugs and violence, it’s truly refreshing to see him in the capacity of a role model, on a mission to guide his kids on a different path than his own. Hip-hop artists often get a bad rap sheet for the imagery in their music and are frequently depicted as bad examples for today’s youth, but on The Family Hustle, T.I. defies those odds. Throughout the rest of this season, T.I. will continue his crusade of keeping a watchful eye on his children. Guess that’s what family is for…—Gerren Keith Gaynor (@MRGERRENALIST)