In addition to touring the country to promote his upcoming album, T.I. has also been speaking to “at risk” youth as part of his sentence for various weapon possession charges. In a bit of role reversal, the “King of the South” has been getting advice from an unlikely source. Noted Civil Rights leader and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, has recently spoken out on Tip‘s behalf.
“He’s bright enough, sensitive enough, vulnerable enough and intellectual enough that he might be able to help the society deal with the problem of violence,” Young tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If you put [T.I.] in jail for 20 years, that won’t do any good toward gun violence. The judge had the wisdom and courage to give him a chance and force him to think about the process.”
In recent months T.I. has found himself at odds with rappers Shawty Lo and 50 Cent. He hasn’t engaged in a full-on beef with either, and credits Young with urging him toward being a leader in his community.
“He’s a mentor of some sort to me,” says T.I. The 76-year-old Young invited the rapper to his home after his arrest, and also took him to a New York rehabilitation hospital to meet victims paralyzed by gang violence. Perhaps most importantly, Young told T.I. to use the example of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in regards to being a leader.
“Once [King] saw that no one else wanted that responsibility, he was forced into it,” says T.I., of his conversation with Young about King. “People depended on him and pushed it on him. It wasn’t until [Young] said in Montgomery that King accepted the responsibility of being the leader of the civil rights movement. He compared that to my situation.”