I’m cool, man.
Are you happy with how your new album TI vs. TIP came out?
Sure. It’s my best album yet.
How did you come up with the concept for the album?
Man, real life events. It’s based on actual situations.
What was the challenge in doing this album?
Just to remain consistent with the narrative and not to go over people’s heads.
Can the album get confusing?
Sure it could, but not the way I broke it down. I separated the album down into three different sections – there’s the TIP section, the TI section and the TI versus TIP section. With the proper knowledge, it won’t be confusing. We have the lyrics in the album. I think it will be real easy. If you want to say, “Forget about the concept,” you can just listen to the music and go from 1 – 18.
Are TI and TIP two separate artists?
Definitely. There are times when we can be one in the same, but for the most part, we are definitely indeed two separate artists.
Who do you feel you are on most days?
(pause) Man, I’m TIP most of the time. I’m TI on TV. I’m a superstar on television but the real people want the street shit.
If you were TIP all the time, would you get as far as TI has gotten in the entertainment industry?
Man, that’s a real debatable subject. There’s a need for that side of a person’s personality when you need to know what’s necessary, but I don’t know any artists that ever made it without any kind of street cred.
Do you feel most artists are scared to show all sides of themselves?
I don’t know other artists. I can’t really speak on that.
What made you go with “Big Shit Poppin’” as the lead single?
I thought it best described where we were in our career and our lives right now.
Are you working on a remix for “Big Shit Poppin’”?
We’re talking about it.
Can you give us any names?
I can’t tell you that.
Have you heard the mixtape version of “Big Shit Poppin’” with Swizz Beatz, Fabolous and Cassidy?
Have I? I think I heard a piece of it. I don’t think I heard it in its entirety.
Did you like it?
Swizz is my man. It’s a good mixtape look. You got a hit record when other rappers want to rap on it.
When other rappers rap over your beats, do you take it as a compliment?
It doesn’t bother me. That’s how you know when people liked your records, when they wish they rapped on it themselves and that it was their beat. That’s how you know when you have a hit record. I appreciate it.
Another sign that you’ve made it is when the press starts reporting on your personal life. How much does that bother you?
An awful lot, especially when they print false truth. Especially when they speak of things that they have no knowledge of. It’s one thing to be talked about and it’s another thing to be lied about. It’s one thing to say, “Mind your business and stay out of my personal life.” It’s another thing for me to say, “Look, man, not only were you in my personal life, but you’re telling people lies about me.” It’s hard to take. But then again, it comes with the territory.
What’s the best way to deal with that?
Not to pay it no attention. Worry about the truth and worry about the facts, not the fiction. I think that you have to be patient with the public because they’re stupid for the most part. Like, you know, smart people are special because they’re smart. Most people are stupid. Don’t you feel like you meet more stupid people than smart people? You just have to understand that the world isn’t filled with people that think, act and behave like you. You have to try to not let their actions dictate your actions.
What producers did you work with for TI vs. TIP?
Several. Mannie Fresh, Wyclef, Lil’ C, Black Mob, Khao, Danja, Drama, Eminem, Keith Mack…those are just the songs that made the album. I worked with other producers as well like Timbaland and will.i.am. Just Blaze is also on the album. I worked with a few people.
Were you going for a different sound on this album?
I go for a different sound on every album.
This is the first time you’re really bringing TIP to the forefront with the album title as well as in your interviews about the album. How come?
I’ve always been TIP and I’ll always be TIP. It never went nowhere. I’ve never introduced myself to anybody anywhere as “TI.” Even in all my songs, you’ve never heard me refer to myself as “TI.” That’s the public persona. That’s my Bruce Wayne. (laughs)
Have you and Q-Tip ever talked about your name?
Nah, not about that. We’ve spoken before, but we don’t feel the need to speak about that.
You seem to be out of beef. Is that a sign of maturity?
I try to consider it that.
Your last album, King, sold more albums than any other rap album last year. Did King meet your expectations?
Nah, it didn’t. It didn’t sell enough for me. But hey, that’s why we got TI vs. TIP.
Are you harder on yourself than your fans and critics are?
Yeah, absolutely. I know the person most worthy of competition for me is me, which is why this album is like this.
Do you see any other rappers as competition?
I mean, nah, I don’t. I don’t. I don’t, man. Other rappers, I respect what they do and I can commend their success and their growth and their talent, but nah, ain’t no other rappers put their life out there. My whole life…I lived this shit for real. And then there’s other people who lived it too, but they don’t reach as many people.
On this album, you have to look at it like this, man – if you figure that I’m on top because I sold a lot of records, there’s other rappers out there who sold a lot of records. But then if you look at me being on top because the ladies like me more, well, there’s other rappers out there who the ladies like just as much. If you look at me being on top because I’m a rapper who owns his own company and is a businessman outside of music, there’s other rappers out there who do the same thing. Then you can look at me as being a rapper who has diversified himself and branched out into the Hollywood, but there’s other rappers out there who do that.
But is there another rapper out there who does all that shit at one time? Who does all this shit at one time? Who else out there does all this and does it well? Fashion. Music. Movies. ‘Hood shit. Fly shit. Got the bitches. Got the niggas. Got the kids. Got the old people. Got the young people. Ain’t nobody out there who’s doing it like I am and doing it for themselves, doing exactly what he said he was going to do when he came into this shit.
Who else has dropped an album and every album consistently, one after the other, is on his fifth album and has consistently grown and grown and done better and better and better each time? I’m beyond compare. If you look at all these people who got all this shit at one time, you got to go back to ‘Pac. You have to go back to Jay. You have to go back to Run-DMC. You can’t compare what I do to what other cats do. They do their thing. Half of it’s cool. Congratulations. I am the first to tell a person when they’re doing their thing and “right on” and “congratulations.” Shit, dog. Don’t get it twisted now.
Does success come natural to you or do you have to work at it?
I work hard, but it does come natural. But I work hard though, man. I work real hard. I feel like you have to match your efforts with your ability.
Did DJ Drama’s arrest and his mixtapes stopping change any of the marketing plans for TI vs. TIP?
Nah, not at all, man. Not at all.
How important have the two of you been to each other’s careers?
Oh, man, we’ve worked wonders for one another. I’ve done it for him over and over and he’s done it for me over and over. It’s definitely mutual.
How’s his album coming?
It’s coming great, man. We’re just putting the finishing touches on it. We’re trying to get it squared away. We had an issue with Drama’s name that we had to take care of. There was another DJ Drama out there so we had to figure out what we could do to take everyone’s mind off of him and keep their minds on Drama.
Are you happy with Young Dro’s progress in the game?
Yeah. I think Dro has the opportunity to do great things. His next album, Young and Restless, I think will prove him to be the artist that everybody knows he is.
What else is going on with Grand Hustle?
Big Kuntry is working on his album. That’s going to be a classic. Then there’s DJ Drama’s album. B.G. is now a part of the family along with the rest of Chopper City. I think that his album, 2 Hood 4 Hollywood, is going to be hot. There’s also the Alfamega project. I think that’s going to be hot. Bonney’s going to come in and do what he does. We have a real solid roster here.
What did it mean to you to make B.G. a part of the Grand Hustle family?
Man, B.G. has always been connected with us.
Are you working on a new PSC album?
We’re going to wait until Big Kuntry, Mac Bonney and Alfa drop their albums, then we’re going to come back.
How’s the shooting for your next movie, American Gangster with Denzel Washington, going?
We’re about ready to wrap up. It’s already in the can. It drops November 2.
What did you learn acting alongside Denzel Washington?
Man, Denzel taught me not to act, just to be. Denzel taught me to keep it simple. He said to me, “Man, they got you here for a reason. Give them what they want.” He made it real easy for me.
How far do you want to take acting?
As far as possible. I’m definitely going to be able to act way longer than I’ll be able to rap.
What inspired your AKOO (A King of Oneself) clothing line?
Man, just me buying clothes and me shopping. When I was buying clothes, I was feeling like, ‘Man, I could have made this shit. I could do that.’
Do you have a favorite car today?
Man, my favorite car today is my S65. I got a lot of cars, but I drive that the most along with my Escalade. TI drives the S65 the most and TIP drives the Escalade the most. (laughs)
A year ago, you talked about kicking out immigrants and legalizing weed to save New Orleans. Did you get any negative feedback to that?
I didn’t say that! If I did say that, I must have said it jokingly. I never thought it was a reasonable possibility.
What does the South have to do to stay on top of the game?
Hey, man, as long as I’m here, bro, ain’t nothing to it. As long as I got a breath in my body, Jack, it’s going to be going down!
What are your goals for TI vs. TIP?
Man, to show diversity and to show range and to show that I’m beyond compare.
Is TI vs. TIP really your best work to date?
Yeah, absolutely, man, without question, hands down. It’s undoubtable.
What advice would you offer to up-and-coming artists?
Be hot and work hard.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Man, thank you. Thank you, man. This album, you’re going to be proud of it. You’re going to get everything you want from it. If you sit and listen to it from top to bottom, it’s a wild ride.