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 T.I. says King gives his subjects exactly what they want ...



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 Tip's parole officer makes things difficult for his acting career ...





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— by Shaheem Reid

T.I. continues to soar from one level of stardom to the next with ease. In the late '90s, he was a street hustler certifying himself as a trap star. Tip's 'hood stardom rose in 2001 when his plans to earn money legitimately culminated in the release of the heralded underground gem I'm Serious. His next LP, 2003's Trap Musik, was a critical success and came close to selling a million copies once his third single, "Rubber Band Man," took off.

'ATL': Kings Of The Rink Grow Up: Check out an exclusive clip and get a closer look at the Atlanta-set coming-of-age drama.

Last year Clifford Harris Jr., a.k.a. the King of the South, solidified himself as one of the top-ranked MCs in the game with Urban Legend. If anyone had any question as to whether his 'hood appeal could translate into pop-star status, all they had to do was look at his heavy rotation on MTV, his platinum plaque or his mingling with perennial A-listers like Diddy, Jay-Z, Destiny's Child and Will Smith. Smith is one of the producers of Tip's debut film, "ATL," which hits theaters March 31, three days after the release of King, the LP he promises is his best yet.

"I ain't supposed to be in no movie," Tip said, reflecting on how far he's come. "I came from nothing. Literally nothing. One of my best friends is doing life right now. Another one of my best friends is dead. My cousin is dead. It could have been me. I stood next to n---as that got hit. Been in shootouts, shooting out with n---as in the middle of the streets. Thank God, period, for everything."

With music and movies on his plate, Tip hasn't lost perspective on what his top priority is: being a father to his four kids, Messiah, 6; Domani, 5; Deyjah, 4; and the child who partly inspired his latest album's title, King, 2. Here Tip explains to MTV News' Shaheem Reid why he's not afraid to lose his cool as an actor, why making movies isn't everything, why King is worthy of such a regal title, and what his number one rule of fatherhood is.

MTV: King shows maturity. It has a universal feel, especially the lead single, "What You Know." That really feels like "the king is coming." It's very regal.

T.I.: When I was making it, I thought, "It's got to be the best." Everything I thought I could have done different on other albums, I tried to do it here. Everything. People liked "U Don't Know Me," so I gave them sh-- like "Top Back" and "I'm Straight." ... N---as like sh-- like "Prayin for Help," so I gave them "GoodLife" and "Live in the Sky." Every song from throughout my career that people like from me, I tried to give them a better version. Every single type of song you could learn to love from T.I. has been reincarnated and mutated into something better.

MTV: There's a record on the album called "I'm Talkin' to You" where the speed-talk flow is reminiscent of what you used on "I'm Serious." A real crazy record. But there have been so many people talking on the Internet, trying to figure out exactly who you are dissing on the track. Some took it as being just a general warning, figuring that you come from the same cloth as LL Cool J, in that if you had a problem with somebody, you'd say their name.

T.I.: Absolutely. I don't throw rocks and hide my hands. I just touched on all the topics that people comment on. People say, "How can he call himself the King of the South and everybody that could possibly be a contender is cool with him?" So I was touching on that. Then, ever since me and [Ludacris] had our falling out, they're like, "What's up with you and 'Cris?" N---as wanna hear me touch on that. Some n---as out here, bullsh-- journalists, write in their story, " 'Cris ate T.I. [and Tip] ain't do 'Cris like he did Flip." [They] just wanna keep up some sh--. They just want to keep us in some beef. That's more or less what fueled the fire on that song.

And n---as who don't rap. N---as who people don't know. I might be in a certain city and certain town where I might get into it with a n---a. I just beat a case where a n---a was trying to sue me, saying I allegedly shot at him outside a club. It's things that go on day to day throughout life that people wouldn't know about. When I'm saying sh--, if I know nobody else knows you but me, then it doesn't make sense for me to say your name.

MTV: Not saying a person's name, not giving them that acknowledgement could hurt them even more.

T.I.: They be like, "I just got roasted and didn't get the fame for it."

MTV: Things are going great for you. You have one of the year's most anticipated albums, and your first movie, "ATL," is about to drop. Are the people in Hollywood up on T.I. the rapper? Can they quote your lyrics?

T.I.: [He laughs.] Nah. Hell nah. They probably know "Bring Em Out" and "U Don't Know Me" [or my guest spot on Destiny's Child's] "Soldier." But they ain't finin' to holla, "T.I. vs. T.I.P."


NEXT: Tip's parole officer makes things difficult for his acting career ...
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Photo: Jason Campbell

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 "What You Know"
King
(Atlantic)




  "Front Back"
King
(Atlantic)




  "Bring Em Out" (live Spring Break '06)
Urban Legend
(Atlantic)




  "I'm a King" (live)
T.I. on Hard Rock Live
(Atlantic)




  "ASAP" (live)
T.I. on Hard Rock Live
(Atlantic)




  "ASAP"
Urban Legend
(Atlantic)




  "Let's Get Away"
Trap Muzik
(Atlantic)




  "Bring Em Out"
Urban Legend
(Atlantic)




  "Be Easy"
Trap Muzik
(Atlantic)




  "24's"
Trap Muzik
(Atlantic)


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