T.I. is no stranger to the small screen.
The Southern hip-hop heavyweight already has his own headlining reality show, VH1’s T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle. But the enterprising MC and part-time actor has taken his talents to the comedy-drama world. Last Sunday, T.I. made his debut on the Emmy-nominated, Don Cheadle-starred Showtime vehicle House of Lies.
Tip plays the role of Lukas Frye, a two-fisted co-owner of successful urban fashion company Dollahyde. T.I. tells VIBE that the producers of House of Lies made it a welcoming experience.
“I became involved because they kind of threw out a line to see if I was interested,” he explains. “I had turned down opportunities for other television series because it was just too time-consuming and I had other things going on. But House of Lies just seemed to find a way to make it work.”
But it’s his character’s underdog storyline that really attracted T.I. to the show. When Cheadle’s charismatic head boss Marty Kaan and his management consultant crew meet up with Lukas and his more conservative partner Dre Collins (played by Mekhi Phifer), the street-raised duo’s relationship becomes complicated. Lukas wants to make his clothes affordable to the ‘hood while Dre envisions a more highbrow business plan.
“I thought, This is the guy that came from nothing and made it on his own,” T.I. says of Lukas. “Nobody wanted to let him in. Nobody ever thought that he could do it. And he showed everybody that he could. Now these motherfuckers want to come in and tell him how to run his company!”
Continues T.I.: “And he has a partner and friend who is alongside him who has other ideas of how to proceed. Lukas just wants to go to Target and Walmart and cash out with $500-$600 million right quick, whereas my partner wants to go to Barney’s or Saks. We differ in that fit because we are not like-minded.”
T.I. says he was most impressed with Cheadle and the rest of the House of Lies cast.
“It’s all real… everybody really does get along,” he says. “They spend time together and know each other. They respect one another’s creative contribution.”
T.I. is currently working on a follow-up to his 2012 album Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head entitled Paperwork: The Motion Picture, which will be reportedly executive produced by Grammy-winning studio wizard Pharrell Williams. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)
Photo Credit: Michael Desmond / SHOWTIME