T.I. was born Clifford Joseph Harris Jr. 29 years ago in Atlanta, Georgia, and from the very start.... his life has been one wild ride! Raised by his grandparents, T.I. initially went by the name 'Tip' after his great-grandfather, and began rapping at age seven.
His next several years were spent in and out of juvinile hall for dealing drugs, where he got another name "Rubber Band Man" which referenced his habit of wearing rubber bands around his wrist to show off a wealth of drugs or money.
Not until his late teens did the scales finally "tip" for young Tip, when record executive Kawan Prather signed him to 'Arista's' subsidiary 'LaFace Records', after which Tip became 'T.I.' out of respect for his label- mate 'Q-Tip'.
In 2001 T.I. released his first album 'I'm Serious' which included guest spots from 'Pharrel Williams' of the Neptunes, 'Jazze Pha', 'Too Short', 'Bone Crusher', 'Pastor Troy' and 'The Youngbloodz'. However, the album peaked poorly at number-98, and sold only 163,000 copies in the United States.
The rapper they were calling the "Next 'J-Z' of the South" was soon dropped from Arista, and his critics claimed that T.I. failed to show and prove himself worthy of that comparison, although he did have potential. If his talent ever matched his confidence, they added, he just might become a star.
After being dropped by 'Arista Records', T.I. decided to form his own label called "Grand Hustle Entertainment", and in 2003 he released several mixtapes along with the hit single "Never Scared", which was written by and performed with rapper-pal 'Bone Crusher'.
With his return to the fast track, T.I. signed a joint venture deal with 'Atlanta Records' and released his second album 'Trap Muzik', which was well received. However, eight-months later T.I. was arrested for violating probation from a 1997 drug conviction, and sentenced to three years in prison.
While inside, he managed to somehow film a music video which earned him an early, work release program....and six months later T.I. put out his third album 'Urban Legend'. Its single "Bring Em Out" rang in 2005 with his first top ten hit, followed up by "U Don't Know Me" and "ASAP", which also made the U.S. "Hot-100" list.
In 2006 T.I. nabbed two Grammy Award nominations for "Soldier" performed with 'Destiny's Child' and 'Lil Wayne', and rap solo "U Know Me". He also won five 'Billboard Music Awards" including Best Rap Artist of the Year, Best Rap Album, Best Album Artist, Best Rap Song Artist and Best Rap Video of the Year....along with BET's Best Male Hip-Hop Award.
T.I. finished 2006 with his first screen acting roll in the film "ATL", where he played an orphaned highschool senior. Co-writtin and produced by 'Antwone Fisher' and 'Will Smith' among others.... ATL grossed 21.2 million dollars at the box office.
2007 saw two more hit albums 'King', who's single "What You Know" won the Grammy, and 'T.I. vs. T.I.P.' which featured singles "Big Things Poppin" and "You Know What It Is"....two of many songs featuring guest appearances from 'Justin Timberlake', 'Wyclef Jean', 'J-Z', 'Busta Rhymes', 'Eminem', 'Nelly', 'Mannie Fresh', 'Jeff Bass', 'Grand Hustle', 'The Runners', 'Just Blaze', 'Danja' and 'Alfamega'.
T.I. next appeared in 'Ridley Scott's' film "American Gangster" alongside 'Denzel Washington' and 'Russell Crowe', while also filming 'Chevrolet' commercials with 'Dale Earnhardt Jr.'
Then, in October, 2007, T.I. was arrested by federal agents and charged with two felonies for possessing un-registered machine guns and silencers. The bust happened in a 'Walgreens' parking lot just prior to the 'BET Hip-Hop Awards' in Atlanta, Georgia.
T.I. managed to put up the three million-dollar cash bond, and was confined to his home for five months before being sentenced to an undefined prison term, a year of house arrest, 1500 hours of community service and over a hundred thousand-dollars in fines.
Through all of this, T.I. somehow managed to release his sixth and most successful album 'Paper Trail', collaborate with artists 'Rihanna', 'Mariah Carey' and 'Mary J. Blige', win another Grammy Award, star in and produce the crime-thriller film 'Takers' alongside 'Matt Dillon' and 'Paul Walker', create an 'MTV' reality series, launch his own film company with actor 'Danny Glover', run a nightclub, work with troubled Atlanta youths and help with "Hurricane Katrina" relief efforts.
As if this wasn't enough, there were also three, high-profile fueds with 'Shaunty Lo', 'Lil'Flip' and 'Ludacris'....each involving entourage brawls, guns and the shooting death of his body guard, Surviving that, T.I.has somehow managed to uphold a family life also, fathering two sons with wife Tameka "Tiny Cottle, and three other children from two previous ralationships.
T.I.'s eventual freedom from legal issues and prison hinges on a recent plea bargain which blocked a possible 10-year sentence, and allowed T.I. to transfer this past December from Forrest City Prison in Arkansas to a halfway house in Atlanta, where he is scheduled to be released on March 26, 2010.
Following an intense financial audit, drug counciling, DNA testing and random searches, T.I. will no doubt be back on his wild ride to fame and fortune....going faster, farther and in more directions than anyone but HE... could possibly endure!