T.I. Talks 'Trouble Man' Collaborations With A$AP Rocky and R.Kelly

T.I. finally has the "Trap Back Jumpin" again with anticipation for his upcoming 8th studio album, Trouble Man. Slated for a December release, VIBE recently courted the ATL native for a sit-down about today's hip-hop bosses, his collaborations with A$AP Rocky and R. Kelly, and his plans for the album. Before Tip's new Lil Wayne-assisted single "Ball" hits the 'Net, check out our exclusive interview with the Kang.

VIBE: Tip, it seems like every rapper is an overnight “boss” all of a sudden. What’s your personal definition of a boss in hip-hop?
TI: I mean, it’s possible to become a boss overnight, but it’s not probable. A lot of people toss that word around so loosely. For real, if you have to use someone else as a source for a meal, than you ain’t a boss. I mean if you’re depending on somebody else to get you something for you that’s not a boss to me. You’ve got to really make your own opportunity and then create opportunities for others. You’ve got to really pull your weight as a confident leader. Also, the people who depend on YOU must fulfill their own responsibilities. You have to make sure everything is happening in order.

I guess I shouldn't even ask if a boss is able to make mistakes...
That ain’t got nothing to do with nothing. It’s the recovery aspect that is the most important thing.

Your new album title definitely sounds like it represents a man who has made some of his own mistakes in the past.
This is true.

I know you're getting close to finishing up the album. How far are you from being 100% complete?
It’s just a matter of narrowing it down. I’ve got 125 songs and I’ve narrowed it down to 86. Now I have to keep narrowing it down until I get to like, 15.

You already named a gang of people who you’ve collaborated with on the album, but are there any last, last minute additions?
I don’t know what names you already have..

You’ve said people like Bobby Ray, 3 Stacks…
Cee-Lo, Wayne, R. Kelly…

What does a R. Kelly/T.I. record sound like?
It’s called “Trouble Man.” It’s a real gangster R&B record. I got two records called “Trouble Man.” I guess they are gonna be a part one and part two. One of them is on more of a “Rubberband Man,” street feel, and the other one is more on some 20 questions type of sh*t.

So a little more introspective, kinda like addressing the “what if’s?”
Pretty much.

I also heard you really spent time bonding with A$AP Rocky.
That’s the homie man. He came down to my house. I’ve had the opportunity to be around him for about 6 months now, and I see a lot of potential in him. I really appreciate the way he values the quality of music. A lot of his shit is different but is accepted and saluted at the same time. He always makes sure that the standard of his work is of a certain quality, and there’s not a lot of little niggas out there that’s really doing that, so I appreciate that over anything.

He’s from New York but definitely has an appreciation for Southern music.
Yeah, he does, he does. I can also appreciate that he’s able to step out of his box and step out of his comfort zone and really do stuff that’s cutting edge.

Would you say the track you guys did is more of a "trap" record?
I mean, No ID did the beat, but it’s some gangster shit, I guess you could say its Southern but done No ID’s way. It’s called “Wild Side.” We’re really talking about where we each come from.
It’s going to be a favorite.

Are you working on any new movies right now? There’s been talks of you doing some lead roles.
I don’t know if I got time at this very moment.

So right now you’re in straight music mode?
Yeah, right now I have a few opportunities that I hope I’ll be able to take advantage of, but I just don’t know when that will be. I’m just trying to make sure that I give the best possible product that I can for Trouble Man and allow myself the most time to market and promote it properly. That’s my focus at the moment.

No shortcuts... it sound like you’re putting everything you’ve got into this project.
Yeah. I’m real proud of it, just listening to it, man, because I really feel like I'm putting everything I got into making sure these records are perfect. It comes out in December, so just sit tight, we've got a bunch of sh*t coming up.

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Chicago Mayor Calls Jussie Smollett Charges Drop "A Whitewash of Justice"

If you've been keeping up with the twists and turns in the Jussie Smollett case, then you may have thrown your hands in the air Tuesday morning (March 26) when prosecutors announced all charges against the 36-year-old actor were dropped.

The shock reverberated online and through the Chicago Police Department who accused the former Empire actor of staging the crime. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were prompted to offer their reaction to the outcome.

"This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice," Emanuel said at a news conference. "There is no accountability. It is wrong, full stop."

Johnson, who was reportedly furious over the outcome, learned about the prosecution's decision while attending a police academy graduation with the mayor.

"I'm sure we all know what happened this morning," Johnson said.  "Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is owed an apology."

Johnson stands by his belief that Smollett made up the whole thing and also suggested a deal was made to keep Smollett out of prison.

"At the end of the day, it's Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax, period," Johnson said. "I heard that they wanted their day in court ... so America could know the truth, and they chose to hide behind a secrecy of a brokered deal to circumvent the judicial system."

The mayor was beside himself after the news, insisting he learned about Smollett's outcome when everyone else did and questioned where are the actor's morals.

“A person using hate crime laws that are on the books to protect people who are minorities, and you turn around and use them to advance your career?" Emmanuel said. "Is there no decency in this man?"

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T.I. Honored By Georgia State Senate For Philanthropic Work

T.I. was recognized by the Georgia Senate for the good deeds the Atlanta-based rapper has done throughout the years, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports.

The “Mediocre” artist was honored at the Georgia State Capitol on Friday (March 22) for the positive influence he’s had on the community. The ceremony was led by State Sen. Donzella James (D-Georgia), who praised Tip for his stellar non-profit, Harris Community Works, which offers help to the disadvantaged and marginalized, and For The Love Of Our Fathers, which caters to those living with Alzheimer's and Dementia.

Previously, the 38-year-old has been involved in various initiatives that empowered the greater ATL area, like collaborating with Walmart to give away 300 tickets so that people could see Black Panther on its premiere date last year.

He’s also establishing a project designed to help create affordable housing for those being affected by the city’s rapid gentrification. In partnership with Dynasty Real Estate Development and APD-Urban Planning and management, the company flips buildings to create cheaper housing in areas where rent has significantly increased.

Additionally, he’s contributed to the arts in curating a trap museum in Atlanta in commemoration to the now ubiquitous hip hop sub-genre.

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Leader Of The Gang Accused Of Killing Junior Guzman-Feliz Is Working With The Cops

The self-described "boss" of the Trinitarios group responsible for the brutal murder of 15-year-old Lesandro (Junior) Guzman-Feliz last June is reportedly cooperating with police.

According to The Daily News, Witness C, as he's being called, is cluing authorities in on all those accused of Junior's horrific murder. Bronx homicide detective Oscar Rosa spoke during a pre-trial hearing Monday (March 25) and said he interviewed Witness C shortly after the June 20, 2018 murder. That's how he learned Jose Muniz was “carrying a machete which he used against the victim as well.”

Witness C reportedly identified all five participants in court Monday (March 25) via photographs and placed them at his Boston Road apartment the killing.  Defendant Elvin Garcia needed advice after the killing due to sustaining a hand injury during the attack. Witness C's sage advice: seek medical attention.

Rosa also testified that he spoke to Garcia briefly while at the 48th precinct and said he was curious as to why Witness C was willing to cooperate with law enforcement.

“I had a brief conversation with Mr. Garcia,” he said. “He did mention to us at one point, ‘If I talk to you, they’re gonna kill me — so I don’t know if I want to talk to you.' "

Junior's mother sat in a courtroom listening to evidence presented when she ran out in tears because a member of the gang that killed her son turned around a made a face at her.

“It’s disgusting,” said Jennifer Weisel, a family spokesperson. “The fact that one of them turns around and sticks their tongue out at her is absolutely disgraceful. He turned around and smirked and smiled at her and stuck his tongue out. She’s beyond upset. She walked out hysterically crying.”

On the night of June 20, 2018, Junior left his apartment to loan a friend some money when he chased down several blocks. Surveillance footage shows the teen entering a local bodega before being dragged out by members of the Trinitarios group and being stabbed and slashed multiple times with a machete.

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