T.I.’s credentials include 10 Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits and five platinum albums. But he has yet to make a big splash musically since he was released from jail following an 11-month term at an Arkansas prison on a probation violation. His last album, 2010’s “No Mercy,” reached gold status, but it didn’t produce any No. 1 hits.
But he says that hasn’t affected him and his future success.
“I’m going to always rise above the doubt that may exist about me,” he said in a recent interview. “I have a core audience of fans that are going to buy (my albums) whether I have a single out. I ain’t got to have a video out. ... When you hear my name and an album, it’s going to be the complete body of work. It’s going to be above standard.”
T.I. said he sets himself apart from most of the current “it” rappers because of his success as an entrepreneur. He’s in the Starz drama series “Boss” and the upcoming comedy “Identity Theft” alongside Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy; he’s got his own Vh1 reality show “T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle”; he has the clothing line Akoo; and this week he released his second novel with author David Ritz called “Trouble & Triumph: A Novel of Power & Beauty.”
“There’s a difference between being hot for the moment, and being huge,” he said. “Whether I’m hot or not, I’m still huge in a lot of different areas. ... It’s certain things I’ll do that (other rappers) will never be able to do. I’m aware of that, and I believe they are, too. It’s just sometimes people get caught up with what’s hot.”
T.I. might have made strides outside of rap, but the 31-year-old said he is still passionate about recording music. His eighth album, Trouble Man, will “tentatively” be out in December. His new single, “Ball,” features Lil Wayne.
“I have to give them the new me,” he said. “I just have to show that I remember the methods, the practices of the old me. It’s like a guy who you know that has lived a certain lifestyle and you know he’s validated to speak on it.”