T.I. has explained why he turned down the opportunity to sign Young Thug and 21 Savage for $1 million.
Sitting down with Shannon Sharpe on his Club Shay Shay podcast, Tip opened up about the two Atlanta rappers both wanting to sign a seven-figure deal with his Grand Hustle label, but he chose not to due to the amount he’d have to take from them in return.
“At this point in my career, I find it honorable to be able to tell new artists when they come up to me,” he said. “You know, 21 Savage, [Young] Thug. A lot of them come up to me, ‘Aye man, give me a million, Tip. I don’t care what you do, just give me a million and let me handle it from there.’
“Like nah, I ain’t gonna do that, because if I give you a million, I gotta take back something that’s gonna be worth way more, and we ain’t gon’ be able to be friends from there. I always tell ’em, man, ‘Don’t worry about the money up front ’cause it’s gon’ come.'”
He added: “I remember telling that to Slime, I remember telling that to 21. And even Savage, every time he sees me now, he’ll hit me and say, ‘Aye, it came.’ And that puts a smile on my face because I just know how impactful every generation has the opportunity to be even more than the last.”
While T.I. didn’t sign Young Thug, the YSL rapper was affiliated with Hustle Gang early in his career thanks to their “About the Money” collaboration and his appearances on the label’s G.D.O.D. II compilation in 2014.
Thug was also courted by Birdman‘s Cash Money and Future‘s Freebandz, but ended up signing with Gucci Mane‘s 1017 Brick Squad and later 300 Entertainment.
21 Savage, meanwhile, released his first few projects independently (including his breakout Savage Mode EP) before signing to Epic Records in 2017, a deal which gave him ownership of his masters.
“Every song you’ve ever heard me on, I own it,” he said on the Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast in 2021. “I got a 70/30 split with my label; I get 70, they get 30. I make more money off my album sales than I do off touring. A lot of rappers, most of their money comes from touring.”
Elsewhere in his Club Shay Shay interview, T.I. elaborated on the mindset of artists at the beginning of their careers and how he learned about the music business from a young age.
“Most times, most artists are only looking for what they’re getting right then,” he said. “Because what we always have is ideas and what the industry has is access, so we usually exchange our ideas for their access, and that’s usually how we get ourselves, until we have created the leverage for ourselves where we can kinda tip the scales in the other direction.
“I had already been researching and reading and kinda familiarizing myself with the business. I read books like Hit Man, all you need to know about the music business, you know, I just already read books to kinda teach me what a good deal was, what a bad deal was, what publishing was, what mechanical rights was. I’d already researched, this is when I was like 9, 10, 11 years old.”
He continued: “I was challenged by my uncle, he said, ‘If this is what you wanna do, you learn everything there is to know and I’ll make sure you have the money and the resources to get you where you wanna go.’ But by the time I read the books, he had done caught a 10-year sentence, so I had all this information and I ain’t had no bag.”