Drive Slow

It could start here. With a purpose. “What’s the purpose?” he asks. “To inspire, educate and entertain.” Maybe he’s said this before. He speaks with lessons learned from the receiving end of Miranda rights, a lifetime of knowing that anything said can and most likely will be used against him. So maybe he’s thought about it over and over in his head and come up with the perfect sound bite, the pull quote that gets big-lettered treatment in magazine spreads.

But nothing seems quite rehearsed about Clifford “T.I.” Harris Jr. Perhaps his brain just works faster than his words. Maybe he stalls for time. Could be he’s double-checking for acute comprehension. He’s prone to repeat questions thrown at him by people with whom he’s not familiar. And his responses are full of qualifiers and clarifications, laden with false starts and U-turns. Nothing erratic or scatterbrained. Charming, good-natured, respectful. He’ll make a mistake, go down a wrong road, and then double back. Sometimes he’ll even apologize—“excuse me”—before continuing. When asked about mistakes, he replies, “For one, a mistake I made was still being in the streets at such a critical point in my career, back when I had to go away. I was still real—I had kinda like one foot in, one foot out, so to speak. And, I mean, shit—my association with certain people in life, certain moves I made that really didn’t have to be made, you know what I’m sayin’?”

He sits in the offices of his record label, Grand Hustle. The label’s only been located here—in a warehouse district on the west side of Atlanta, not too far from the Bankhead Highway—for less than a year. The furniture is new, the walls and floors clean. No one is allowed to smoke here. Unless you’re with T.I., who’s taking light tokes on something inside of a Swisher Sweet cigar.

Until recently, Grand Hustle had been a boutique operation in the smallest way. For about two years, T.I. was the only artist in the stable. But last year, the label released 25 to Life by T.I.’s clique, P$C, and the soundtrack to the pimp-friendly Terrence Howard vehicle Hustle & Flow, which has, musingly enough, garnered an Oscar nomination for Memphis’ Three 6 Mafia. The roster now includes close to a dozen acts, including an R&B artist and DJ Drama, creator of the Gangsta Grillz mixtape series.

XXL.79.T.I2.jpgIt could start with the music. Without the music, the other things may not have materialized. The entrepreneurial expansion, which includes a construction company and a car-customization shop fancied by young athletes with new money, and the cars in the parking lot, which include a Porsche and a Ferrari, might not be here. If it weren’t for the music, he probably wouldn’t be headlining, this spring, in video director Chris Robinson’s silver screen debut, the Southern coming-of-age tale ATL. It could start with the music, because the music is why he’s being questioned by a magazine interviewer and not a federal agent. The music is why we know T.I. And the music has always been exceptional, if not always well-received. His first album, I’m Serious, released in 2001, contained the song “Dope Boyz,” which, in a sense, could be considered before its time.

“They was scared of this,” says T.I. “At the time, the people, the powers that be, weren’t so perceptive to the idea of having real niggas run shit. Not real, real, hard, cold, street, hood niggas who wouldn’t change and conform for shit.”

“At the time” Atlanta rap was still largely defined by OutKast, Goodie Mob and the rest of the Dungeon Family—most of the rest of the city followed in their wake. Elsewhere in the South, there were regional stars uncompromising in their music—like UGK, Geto Boys, 8Ball & MJG and Three 6—but their national hits, if any, were few and far between. Local acts that wanted to get the attention of the major labels were stuck copying the eccentric funk of ’Kast or the smoothed-out stylings of Jermaine Dupri—the hometowners who defined the look and feel of the city.

“I weren’t with that shit for real,” says T.I., although he reveres OutKast so much that he will answer a question with a quote from Andre 3000. “Listening to ’Kast, that shit sounds great, them niggas rap like a muthafucka, the production is stupendous. But when I woke up this morning, I saw this,” he says, referring to the Trap. The Trap, known to some as the Game, was in him and he was in it. “I had a different take on things. I feel like it was a large amount of people that were being left out. The dope game, it were kind of unheard of. And if you spoke on it, you had to speak on it quietly.”

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  • http://futureok1983yahoo.com Sergio

    I cant knock T.I.’s talent. The man can rap and he knows his hustle. You always got to give credit when credit is do but he is not the King of the South. He is the self-proclaimed King. There have been few people/slash have more right to that title than T.I. Like Ludacris or Outkast. What has he down in Hip-Hop that he deserves the title King? He can be the self-proclaimed king for the rest of his career. If anybody can say they the “King of the South” for no reason then I’ll end my comments with “I’m the King of the South.”

  • http://fuckatl.com kilo

    t.i. is wack same wit dem otha atl muffins a couple from atl is hard but thats bout it the rest is fruit-of-the-loom niggaz mane

  • King Worth

    T.I. is gotta be one of the most influential niggas in the game though i don’t rap this nigga always seems to hit home wit me cause im from the streets one foot in one foot out tryin to make it both ways this nigga is one of the greatest rappers/trappers alive props is due to fam doing his thang keep it up the world need real niggas from King to King

  • http://xxlmag.com bobdigi

    Ti is fuckin wack! His music is trash and he cant rap for shit.Hes not even in the top 5 in the south.

  • http://blake77520yahoo.com Shakey B

    Due to the fact that i am from the south,and born in the 70′s.I had the honor of growing up with southern hip hop or better yet gumbo funk.I give Ti props he is one of the best lyrical cats to come from the south but I cant close my eyes listen to his music and picture his words as if I was watching a movie as I could with scarface.As children we were all taught to think nothing less of ourselves but kings and queens so don’t knock the man for saying what we all were taught but few are willing to say.

  • lil jay 21

    My nigga t.i. is the shit. I don’t care what anybody says or thinks cuz he is doing his thug tizzle out in the ATL. He spit the fire at y’all cat thats be hatin’ on him. He ain’t scare at none of y’all. Thats why he the King Of the South.

  • Chan’roc

    y’all need to stop hatn’ on my nigga ti, you know that nigga good at what he do. Y’all just mad it at you spittin’ flows and pullin’ all the ladies. Holla at ya gurl

  • Nut from Fla.

    Anybody who can’t relate to T.I. ain’t from the streets. Until one of these coward hearted niggas thats been goin behind his back hatn’ and dry-snitchin decides to stand up like a man and go directly for the crown, he is and will remain THE KING OF THE SOUTH…….

  • Georgiagrl

    I love T.I. he has dope lyrics and he is sooooo damn fine. His swagger and his style makes him sexier then a muthafucka

  • jay

    Ti is that dude. There aint no trap without tip. He is the king of the new south. Everybody know face is the king.

  • http://xxlmag.com bobdigi

    Yo, if ti is on of the souths best lyricist, then i feel sorry for yall.

  • young_bleek

    T.I. is one of the illest mc’s to come from the south, he proved that some down south rappers have skills and can talk about real life instead of snapping there fingers like them lame ass niggas dfb and d4l and punk ass crimemobb.

  • http://source.com one

    t.i is wack just like the rest of dem southern rappas except 4 outkast and little brother nobody else is say’n shit. the west and the east are sick of yall bama ass niggas. hiphop is not 4 u fuck’n farmers in the country thats the fuck’n slow life. dirt roads and horses
    isnt what hiphop is about.the city is where the music is too many of u
    idiots make bullshit and call it hiphop. T.I. is a rap artist not a
    hiphop artist. we havent heard any real hip hop come from the south.
    (except 4 little brother)from N.C.
    yall should stop call’n all the crap that comes from the south hiphop that shit is rap……come live the fast life in the city cali love

  • Sade

    t.i. is fine but he act hard sometimes. And how he dressed on 106 and park messed up his rep.

  • JT

    T.I. Da Damn Nation end of tha topic

  • Jade Star

    TI has more sense than a lil bit and I don’t knock anybody tryin’ to get his. When you grow up with nuthin and you finally get that chance to have the funds to dress as you like, drive what you like and do what you like then who the fuck are you muthafukkas to judge?! You all would do the same thing and if you say you wouldn’t then you are lying to yourself my friend. Sure he may be a bit self centered in his rhymes but so is Jay-z and all ya’ll muthafukkas hang off his nuts like you was one of his hairs!!! Kenichiwah Bitches.

  • Bre

    That dude TIP is da TRUTH&a real KING,so 2 all y’all out there who hating on TIP,get y’all money up&go kill y’allselves!!!!

  • NY king

    TI is good at what he do but dont start callin him the best lyricist…hes smart wit his shit good beats that stik in ur head like that what u know and ride wit me joints….sure his shyt is hot to listen too and bump in ya whip….but the dude aint a king…Biggie and pac is kings…this dude gotta put out more shyt to be called a king…give him a few years and maybe he’ll be a prince but for now ti needs to slow his role…the kings are made on east coast not in the dirty…jus bein real 1

  • bluerid

    yeah keep your nose clean peace im out i bought damian marley s cd.
    so for me theres no way back beautifull-damian marley bobby brown.

    marshall you are my true love and king inlifeanddeath and damian is making me cry everytime again thank all of you i will never let yall go again to. peace im out and im friggin emotional peace out.

  • gisele

    and im for real when i say this. i have never been into this response shit but any niggas who hate on t.i. has to be sick!!! he’s smart and he know how to make that money. he’s the next russell simmons and all u haters can take a point or two about how to flip that dope money and make a legit hustle

  • Brig

    Man… All of this KING shit due to geographics is non-sense!! Just like its whack ass rhymers in tha South, tha East and tha West got em too… A KING is made, who gives a damn where he is from!! Rap and Hip Hop are different, I do agree, but it all depends on what u were brought up listening to what u will like the most… Most cats in tha south grew up listenin to RAP as did niggas in the West!! We ALL know PAC and BIG are kings of HIP-HOP… But I do believe that if they were both alive, they would agree with TI, cuz he is HOT. Tha nigga is fearless in his rhymes and he doesnt claim to be the most lyrical muthafucka spittin! He is just confident in what he does cuz he has the right to… Scarface gave it to him, so why cant tha rest of u niggas respect what tha dude is doin?!! I wish tha dude much success, as if he needs me!! Niggas need to stop HATIN… If u dont like him, dont fuck wit him! PERIOD…

  • stillmatik

    yo, that’s my dawg T.I. that muthafucka keeps his shit real unlike all these other busta muthafuckas. much respect due to the king. keep doin you boy!

  • d.GUTTA

    how could yall say T.I aint a lyricist??!! have yall heard his previous albums?
    personally, i think T.I is waaaay iller with the flow than most of the rap cats in the game INCLUDING MCees from NY.

  • http://hotmail.com dex

    What the fuck is up with this nigga one. u one of the most hating ass bitches on the planet. just because your east and westcoast rappers ain’t
    getting the rotation on the airways like southern artists don’t give u the right to judge us. but i can’t get mad cause you can’t blame a blind man for not seeing the truth

  • shonuff

    how the hell you not gone respect that. nobody was rappin bout the trap before t.i. except for ghetto mafia and alot of people dont know them. cant wait to here this new album shit should be fire. and wasn’t nobody sayin nothing bout being the king of he south until t.i. did it. nobody took the crown so he said shit why not me. if you think luda ripped on stomp. listen t.i.
    s verse on that, listen to in da a, listen to the rap city freestyle, and listen to another song called represent. t.i. done ripped luda to and people dont know that the beef was already squashed when the stomp came out. Beef 3

  • mosalino

    Where can I buy that jacket from that he is wearing. Is it even for sell any where.

  • biatch

    he’s to full of himself he was better back in the day….

  • rome

    any body who says t.i isn’t a lyricist needs to listen to “no more talk” off the trap muzik cd.

  • Rebel Lion

    Peace, and where can I find that LRG hoody that TI is wearin in the article, that shit is SERIOUS!
    TI can spit, he has great control over rythm and flow of a verse, dudes rhymes consistently convey his point, and he can make hit music. That means TI can spit bcuz his words resound with the crowd, and the crowd has always driven hiphop music, from the battle on the street to the sold out show, the crowd inspires and gives energy to the MC. The crowd believes in TI’s ability, and thats all that matters.


    hatin is a weak emotion and those dat can’t respect TI for bringing a new element 2 tha game along wit some of tha best lyrics in tha south and his own original flow shouldn’t be voicing they opinions, cas while they spending time hatin they tha main ones bootlegging his sh*t and ridin 2 it.

  • K-DI

    This is a good time in rap to be a trapper just look at Young Joc none rapping ass. Let’s keep it trill it is T.I.’s image that make him stand out as a mc more than his mic skill. Really he is not a bad artist but he is what a 4 mic or barely XL average album artist at best. Let focus more on mc’s that have more of a chance dropping classic and show casing real mic skills. Not barely solid albums that have a hot single for the spring moment.

  • Mysha

    People can bash TI as much as they want but you can’t ignore the fact that he is real, there is no gimic. His choice to keep away from the rap beef is admirable, showing real maturity. And for those young men looking for a true rap role model you should take a few pages from his book. His talent is real unlike a lot of rappers out there. As a rapper you’re a lyricist and a lyricist – a writer. TI’s lyrics are truly vivid showing that his talent ranges even further than the music arena. The man speaks the truth and he wears his crown well. Respect the King of the South.

  • Aking

    alot of people u here out here rappin all over up north back down south have verses from t.i. ..the boi is a writer ….has done tracks for lil kim albums for bow wow …lots of other hits going plat…straight TIP anybody that say the boi not a head of his time needs to go and get IM SERIOUS….and trap musik is the best trap cd to drop F**K jeezy

  • Ann

    i looooooooooooooooooovvvvvvvvvvvvveeeee T.I he bangin!!

  • http://T.I.Mydogg jay

    Man kilo shut yo dumb ass up u fuk nigga sayn T.i. wack mothafucka u wack ya broke bitch u aint even been 2 fukin A.T.L u Fukin DUCK ….Den U gon say dey sum fruit of da loom nigga i oughta slap yo crusty headed ass for sum dumb shyt lyk dat i bet 5 dat nigga t.i. will lay yo ass out …. u fukin think u a G nigga u aint shit \sayin sum dumb shyt lyk dat T.i my dogg lyk it or not mothafuka u mad cuz dis nigga gettin gott it all aint no reason 2 act all hard lyk u can take da world bitch ass nigga ….T.i. my doggg ight ill keep on sayin dis shyt till yo fukin ass get it u disrespectful mothafucka im out-1-

  • e.h.

    Someone find where you can buy that jacket.

    the King album should silence all doubts of T.I.’s lyrical ability, cd is fire.

  • http://XXLMAG.com CV

    “TI” is the “KING” as we already know. Anybody who don’t like it don’t have to listen to his music, but don’t try to spoil it for everyone else cause u mad that u can’t be him. FUCK that nigga one. U are a disrespectful ass nigga. Evidently, u don’t know shit about the south and you don’t know shit about real music. Don’t hate cause aint shit being produced in cali but lame ass niggas like u. u aint nothing but a fucking hata. The South runnin this shit playa.



  • http://xxlmag.com ervdaddy

    I do agree Tip is king of the south.His always commin up wit the best street hook,dont forget he got awarded for best street anthem….you dont know me on his urban legend album.The king album I would say is his best album.Theres nothing the same or alike on any of his projects thats a plus for me!I give his new album four ****
    Give this nigga his credit his doin his king shit!So for now jus keep it movin shorty you dont know me….



  • Lauren

    T.I. is one of the hottest african-american guys in the industry of rap music!! His music is fine, his style is fine, and most of all he is fine!! I love him at everything he does and I can’t wait to see him in concert at the end of the month!! I love you T.I.!!! OH GO SEE “ATL” ITS AMAZING!!

  • scantlaz

    top 5 in the south(no paticular order)

    3.lil wayne
    5.bun b

  • http://xxlmag.com young stunna


  • TI#1fan

    Fuck all ya’ll hating niggaz T.I is the motherfuckin shit all ya’ll niggaz who think diffrent can suck his dick and Eat my motherfuckin PUSSY

  • Keewee

    I love u T.I. and all that shit people say don’t make me feel any different about u cause u is da realist nigga in dis rap game all them other niggas just salin bubba gum raps.

  • ti hustler wife

    a ti dont think about them haters think about me and you and all them bitch that swear they can top u the are fucking wrong u is the most sexiest rapper out there and from atl nd i saw your movie 4 love you baby and when everytime you do something i am on your mailing list from my cellphone love u baby so much.

  • deelzzzzz

    Where Can I Cop That Hoody T.I. Is Wearin In That Pic

  • Nize

    Where can I buy the hoodie T.I is wearin on the “what you know” video. The big black one with the robot figure. I’ve looked everywhere and I can’t find it. Somene PLZ help me!!

  • Fox

    The hoodie the pic is the hoodie from a company called LRG. You can find them on turntablelab.com but that hoodie is old and they dont have it any more, and i need to find that black hoodie he has on in that what you know video it says robot company on the front anyone have any idea where i can that hoodie, that would be fire……

  • Fox

    i thought that hoodie was old the one in the pic above but i found it on caliroots.com it is across seas and it like 190 plus wutever shipping it is. It might go on turntablelab or commonwealth soon…..

  • Buttab

    while yall hatin on TIP stuck in traffic late for work. TI still sleeping waiting on breakfast in bed. Haters get on your job !

  • tennessee-t

    “and the soundtrack to the pimp-friendly Terrence Howard vehicle Hustle & Flow, which has, musingly enough, garnered an Oscar nomination for Memphis’ Three 6 Mafia.”

  • Fox

    That black hoodie he has on in the video i believe is from the film company that did hustle and flow, it says robot film company on the front, i cant find a website or the hoodie though. You’ll see in the beginning of the video it says “robot film company and huslte presents”

  • Big Mike

    T.I. is a tru king doin’ king shit. Big ups to XXL for a fair portrayal of the sickest flow artist to come out of the South since Outkast. BTW, is that custom LRG/Grand Hustle hoodie available in stores or anywhere else?

  • Pingback: » Blowin’ Dro - XXL

  • Mr. Fly

    Whoever iz the One need to slo yur roll…..Cuz y’all got some Bullshit called hyphy music…..and y’all thank actin’
    dumb iz tight…Anyways Hip-Hop wuz supposed to be a way fo’ Black people to express themselves and where they came from….So I’d rather live slow then people thinkin’ i’m retarded….

  • akfree

    what is the name of the hoody brand that ti had on with the robot

  • BadLuck

    ti is fukn wack FUCK tha South except 4 little brother and outkast

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