By Tony Lesesne
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer
When speaking of rapper moguls, Jay Z has that market cornered and there is no reason why he shouldn’t. But, Jay Z is far from the only rapper to form a team and negotiate for the highest possible pay. There is also T.I. and he’s definitely not one to overlook.
As often as Jay Z is bashed, he created a position in the game that takes big shoes to fill. Once he retired, this was noted and Lil Wayne claimed this position, himself. But, T.I. filled the void without going for anything more than King of the South.
T.I. wasn’t always a very popular artist, but he claimed King of the South, saying it so much until it was true. Early on, legend has it that he was called the ‘Jay Z of the South’ by Pharrell. Depending on how it’s looked at, T.I. did this, as his team bought their way out of Arista Records with L.A. Reid to take it back to the streets.
It was here where T.I. and his team, starting with partner, Jason Geter, and best friend, Philant “Phil” Johnson, decided to build Grand Hustle. This became the home for T.I.’s music and the basis of every negotiation he would enter, following then. Having Grand Hustle became the difference of T.I. signing with Bad Boy and eventually being a Bad Boy/Atlantic artist to being direct partners with Atlantic Records.
Spurning the opportunity to work for Diddy earned T.I. his respect and the chance to work WITH him, and also the likes of Jay Z and Dr. Dre. In the past, Hip Hop Vibe has covered the legacy T.I. has built and the success Grand Hustle has experienced, despite the ups and downs. Some things are just meant to be and when a person is determined to make it, nothing stops them, they only get slowed down.
No doubt, T.I. faced the type of odds that would make most people quit, or quit on him, but he held the intangibles that kept the squad together. The story was told in such an honest way, BET could not have brought in better producers for “Inside The Label.” While watching this episode, it truly makes it feel as if it’s 2003-2006, again, and T.I. is on top of the game.
Looking at T.I.’s career, both as an artist and an executive, bringing Young Dro, B.o.B., and Iggy Azalea to fame, this show makes fans wonder what would have happened if T.I. didn’t go to prison. But, look at what he did despite serving three prison sentences at the height of his career. Chart-topping singles, platinum plaques, Emmy-award winning music, on top of Grammys, and now a partnership with TIDAL, T.I. is that dude.
Follow Tony Lesesne on Twitter @TonyCLesesne.