Within a series of legal troubles in the late 2000s, Atlanta, Georgia superstar rapper T.I. went on a transformation. Arrested four times between 2004 and 2010, T.I.’s most recent two albums, No Mercy and Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head touched on his battles with the law, and hinted towards change. Since 2011, the emcee has also been the co-star of T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle, a reality series on Vh1.

In an interview with XXL magazine, T.I. revealed that Atlantic Records, his label since 2003’s Trap Muzik, was not a fan of this image and personal transformation. While No Mercy achieved gold status, with Trouble Man within 10,000 units of achieving the same feat, the label witnessed platinum sales from Tip seven years ago. “Nah, [Atlantic Records] hated it,” expressed the Grand Hustle Records founder. “Labels love hardcore T.I. That keeps the cash register ringing. They don’t want me to go to prison and caught though. They want me to be the Teflon Don, and I can’t blame them,” he said, likely referring to Gambino Family mob boss John Gotti’s longtime nickname. “That shit’s sexy. But I’m older, man. I’m wiser, I’m calmer… I’m better, stronger. I’m ready for whatever tomorrow got coming.”

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Speaking of image, XXL also asked T.I. to reflect on his 2001 debut, I’m Serious. T.I.’s lowest-selling LP to date remains a fan-favorite, and his only release with Ghet-O-Vision/Arista Records.

Speaking about where he expected to end up following the DJ Toomp-produced Top 100 LP, “I thought I’d be in prison or dead or back selling crack,” said T.I. “I came so close to getting back in the game after my first album didn’t do what it was supposed to do. I still had people to feed. I wasn’t front lines like I was at one time, but I definitely…I’m not going to talk anymore about that.”

The full interview with T.I. is available at XXLMag.com, and on newsstands everywhere.