After reporting that the album was “60 to 70 percent done” back in March, Atlanta rapper T.I. announced a change of direction and title for his upcoming album while appearing on MTV’s RapFix Live yesterday (December 11).
Originally slated to be released this month, T.I. planned to sequelize his eighth studio album, Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head, with a follow-up titled Trouble Man: He Who Wears The Crown. While speaking with Sway Calloway on RapFix Live, T.I. updated fans on the progress with the news that his next release “has taken a different shape.” “I think we're going to postpone that title," he said. "We're gonna rework that. I got a couple of things in mind." Despite the new direction, the artist confirmed that Trouble Man II has not been scrapped and that he does plan to release the album. "I still have that album,” he said of the sequel, “that album isn't lost, I have that project as well. But the music that we began to create—Pharrell, myself, so many others that have contributed between the time of then and now—the project is just taking a new shape."
Speaking on the change in title, T.I. dropped hints at the possible name change while on the show. "All I'ma say is, it's gonna be a motion picture, it's gonna be a theatrical-worthy title,” he said. “Something that will definitely seem instant classic...I'm thinking something like Trap Champion [or] Paperwork, but whatever it is the subtitle will be The Motion Picture."
T.I. Describes His Deal With Columbia Records
T.I. did not mention a schedule for the release of the as-yet-to-be-named project but spoke at length about the terms of his new record deal with Columbia Records. In a separate interview earlier in the week, T.I. told DJ Scream on Hood Rich Radio that the deal extended only to his work as a solo artist and covers only his upcoming release. While on RapFix Live, T.I. described the terms of the deal as owing in part to the success of his featured performance on the Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams hit “Blurred Lines.” “[That] had a lot to do with it,” he said, “it diversified me, even at this level of my career. Thank you to Pharrell and Robin for allowing me the opportunity to even contribute.” The three time Grammy winner was recently awarded two Grammy nominations stemming from his appearance on the song.
Speaking more specifically on the terms of the deal, T.I. explained his priority to maintain control over his music. “The deal that they presented” he said, “we were able to negotiate and acquire was one that allowed me ownership of my art. All the things that artists like us fight from album to album and deal to deal to try and achieve, they were able to present that and some millions too,” he said in reference to the money the deal brought. “So that made sense to me.”
The rapper went on to talk about the importance of ownership and equity with specific relevance to his latest agreement, but also on more general terms as well. “This is the thing, money is the way we measure our commitment, or the investment of money and the relinquishing of equity,” he said. “Sony or Columbia being the huge, huge distributor[s] they are, they own or reserve the right to keep this equity for themselves and give me the majority of those $75 million,” he said in reference to the alleged amount of capital he had requested while shopping for a deal earlier in the year. “Or you could say look man, I don’t wanna give you all this, so why don’t we give you some of this equity that we have over here that people are clawing at that over time could surpass this $75 milion. The things you could pass down from generation to generation. The same way people like Michael [Jackson], Stevie [Wonder], and Marvin [Gaye], people who were really able to get a piece of their art. A lot of people create art, but a few of us have the opportunity to really, really own our own art.
T.I. Remembers When It Was "Unique To Be A Gangster"
Stemming from a separate line of questioning, T.I. added his thoughts on the viability of gangster rap and the gangster image within Hip Hop in the current climate. “I’m looking at the game and I just want to bring back the time when it was unique to be a gangster,” he said. “At some time being a gangster kind of got oversaturated and commercialized, but now thanks to people like Kanye, thanks to people like Drake, thanks to people like J. Cole, now everybody wants to be from college, which is wonderful. But now you got gangsters trying to be like ‘nah I went to school too!’ So now, since everybody’s on that, no disrespect to anybody on that, no disrespect to anybody that introduced that to the game, but now it makes it a little more unique to be a gangster again. I want to give people what Snoop gave them Doggystyle, what Dre gave them with The Chronic, even what Outkast gave them with Southernplayalistic, it was a music that seems like it was a soundtrack to a certain lifestyle, even if you didn’t live it, it was interesting as hell to listen to it.”
Continuing with a description of what the term means to him, T.I. described being a gangster as “being free” and “courageous enough to be [yourself].” “Whatever you are, whatever your story is, whatever your testimony is, speak on that, whatever got you there, the things that you went through to get to this point that allow you to have this perspective. Right, wrong, positive, negative, whatever that is, to put that out there without too much glorification, just stating the facts. Not trying to make yourself look all super, ultra cool all the time. You gotta to offer some vulnerability, get some truth in there, let people see that there is a bright side and a dark side, an adequate display of both.”
While on the show T.I. also discussed the controversy with regard to Marvin Gaye's estate surrounding the "Blurred Lines" single, his own charm and ability to navigate the music industry, and shared some parenting advice.
More videos of T.I.'s appearance on RapFix Live can be streamed at MTV.