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?”
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.