Forty years after he was born Clifford Harris and almost 20 years after he released his debut album, 2001’s “I’m Serious,” T.I. is still very much living his life.
“S –t, I didn’t think I’d still be alive, you know what I’m sayin’?” T.I. told The Post over the phone from his Atlanta home base. “I knew that if I did things appropriately and executed my plans properly, it was possible for me to still be here, but I can’t say that I just adamantly knew I would be.”
But here T.I. is, still making moves in the game by dropping his 11th studio album, “The L.I.B.R.A. (The Legend Is Back Running Atlanta),” on Friday. The title takes its name from the “Whatever You Like” rapper’s astrological sign, but he wouldn’t exactly describe himself as “balanced.”
“I’m an anomaly in all aspects,” said T.I. “If you notice the scales of the Libra, they are never even . . . Moderation has never been my strong point. I’m a Libra that’s excessive in everything I do.”
On his new LP, T.I. — whose Southern-swag accent, with the slowest of drawls, remains as thick as ever — adjusts the scales to work with a flossy posse of guests, including Snoop Dogg (“Moon Juice”), John Legend (“We Did It Big”) and Rick Ross (“Respect the Code”).
He also gets some hometown love from Atlanta’s Lil Baby — one of the hottest rappers of 2020 — on “Pardon.” “We’re cut from similar cloths, you know? We come from similar backgrounds,” he said. “The same things that inspired him to do music inspired me: get my momma out the ghetto; creating a new standard of living for myself and my loved ones.”
As the title of his new album suggests, T.I. — which is a shortened version of his childhood nickname, Tip — has been running and repping the ATL for years now. “The culture of Atlanta is embedded in me,” he said. “A lot of the personas that I present to people . . . that s–t comes from Atlanta.”
And the reality star of VH1’s “T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle” got back in touch with home during the COVID-19 lockdown. “The self-quarantine of the pandemic didn’t bother me one bit,” he said. “I enjoyed reading my daughter bedtime stories and making breakfast for her. I enjoyed actually knowing where things are. You never notice how much you’re not at home until somebody asks you, ‘Where’s the dustpan?’ ”
T.I. worked the family hustle on “The L.I.B.R.A.” His son Domani, 19, appears on the appropriately titled “Family Connect,” which is one of two tracks produced by his oldest son Messiah, 20. Meanwhile, his daughter Deyjah, 19, closes the album with “Deyjah’s Conclusion.”
“Deyjah ain’t really one for the spotlight,” he said. “But I said, ‘I got a spot for a song. Do you want to speak on behalf of the women of your generation?’ I didn’t expect her to do it, and she was like, ‘I got something to say.’ The things that she had to say were so powerful.”
No stranger to controversy, T.I. faced backlash last year when he made comments about going with Deyjah to the gynecologist to make sure that she was still a virgin. Just last month, he settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission on cryptocurrency-scam charges, and back in 2010 he was handed an 11-month jail sentence for violating his probation following drug charges.
Still, T.I. is philosophical about his resilience: “First of all, you recognize the things that you haven’t lost, starting with your life. And then usually after being in it for a certain period of time, you usually see that, ‘Well, this ain’t as bad as I thought it was.’ So it’s kinda like, allow yourself to be positive enough to allow stuff to work out in your favor.”
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