LOS ANGELES — T.I. might have a pair of Grammys to his name come Wednesday night, but the Dirty South rap star — who has racked up praise for his hit singles "U Don't Know Me," "I'm a King" and "Bring Em Out" — is predicting even bigger success at next year's awards.
"It's just another day at the office for me," the Atlanta MC said on the set of his "What You Know?" video, the first single from his upcoming album, King. "I really appreciate being appreciated, and it feels wonderful to be recognized amongst my peers, but I don't really care about winning or losing [this time].
"I plan on coming back next year and really cleaning house, but if I win one [Grammy] this year, that's a plus," he continued.
The rapper is nominated for his featured slot on Destiny's Child's "Soldier," which is competing in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category. He's also in the running for Best Rap Solo Performance, although he'll be battling heavyweights 50 Cent, Eminem, Common, Ludacris and Kanye West.
"['U Don't Know Me'] was one of the best songs last year," he said, nodding. "But whether or not it was absolutely the best has yet to be seen. It's stiff competition, but it will give all the nominees a run for their money."
Producer DJ Toomp — who laid down the track with T.I. — said he knew from the get-go that the two had something special on their hands. "The magic was crazy [when] me and Tip came together," Toomp said. "Sometimes you don't really feel it till it hits radio, but I could feel it when we were mixing it. The track was already amazing, but the chemistry once T.I. jumped on it, I knew it was a masterpiece."
Tip has also snagged support from director Chris Robinson, who helmed both the "What You Know?" video and the upcoming movie "ATL," which stars T.I. and prominently features his new single. "We want Tip to get [that Grammy] and take it home to the ATL. We gonna carry it around at the movie premiere," Robinson joked.
"ATL" — out March 31 and also featuring Outkast's Big Boi — stars Tip in his big-screen debut. He plays Rashad, a young man who has to deal with the pressure of being the nucleus of his working-class family as he prepares to graduate high school.
Although the movie has yet to premiere, the video for "U Don't Know Me" envisions that exact scenario. T.I. is decked out in a crisp, black-collared shirt and white top coat, surrounded by his "ATL" co-stars (sans Big Boi) and a bevy of beautiful ladies.
The budding actor is on the lookout for future roles as well. "There's a lot of things in the pipeline, we just gotta see if we can fit them in," he said, "but we definitely gonna do more movies and maximize the opportunities that are presented to us."
As for King, due March 28, T.I. churned out roughly 65 tracks but only selected the hottest joints.
"King is like Trap Muzik on steroids," he said. "Everything you loved about [my] albums in the past has been reincarnated and hit with some nuclear sewage that made that sh-- mutate into something of catastrophic proportions."
The Rubber Band Man also has big plans in 2006 for his label, Grand Hustle Entertainment, which boasts an impressive arsenal of MCs, R&B singers and hip-hop artists including New Orleans rapper Govenor, Detroit's DJ Drama and Young Dro, who also makes a cameo in the video.
"Y'all ain't ready," he said, shaking his head. "We have an elaborate plan and scheme for world domination and we will not stop. Our global conquest will continue."
The show's over, but there's still plenty of Grammy goodness right here on MTVNews.com. Check out photos of the hottest green-carpet and onstage moments, find out what went down at the celeb-packed parties, and share your thoughts on the performers, winners and losers.