NEW YORK — T.I.'s arrest on weapons charges last weekend came as a surprise to many in the hip-hop community, but according to Wyclef Jean, a song on his upcoming album that features the jailed superstar almost foreshadowed his troubles.
The track, "Slow Down," finds the two trading verses about their hardships in life, with the Atlanta rapper's lyrics hitting close to home.
"We were going back and forth," 'Clef told MTV News at New York club S.O.B.'s Thursday night, where he was honored for his efforts in aiding Haiti. "I remember some of his lyrics: 'I remember get money/ All we did was get money/ Until the Feds raided the trap/ And took the thing from it.'
"And for me, I believe in one sense he's a prophet," Wyclef continued. "He has that gift. When he speaks, whatever he speaks about, you can feel it. And beyond feeling it, he really lived it. And it's like, he's basically saying, 'Look what I become. And you kids inside of these rough communities, you can become that.' I grew to like him a lot. I got attached to him, and he's someone I would definitely ride for. I went back and listened to it and played it for a lot of homies. And they said the song reminded them of the 2Pac song 'Keep Ya Head Up,' but the 2008 version. Because the song is like, 'I could have been, but look what I become.' "
Like most of Tip's peers, 'Clef wished him well. The two collaborated on T.I.'s last album, T.I. vs. T.I.P., on the single "You Know What It Is." Tip even served as co-executive producer on 'Clef's Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant.
"We definitely clicked in the studio," Wyclef said. "I vouch for the kid in the sense that I think he was one of the smartest rising stars in not [just] the music industry, but the world. I watched him on 'Hip-Hop vs. America,' and I saw the way he was talking just like Malcolm X. The conversation started getting deeper and deeper. And I think he has influence. When he speaks, it moves a whole generation."
Wyclef's influence isn't too shabby either. Haitian ambassadors, both from the island and Stateside, appeared at S.O.B.'s, along with DJ Whoo Kid and Russell Simmons. The former Fugees frontman was awarded a diplomatic passport and a goodwill ambassadorship.
"I'mma get the diplomatic plates," 'Clef joked. "So you can't give me no more tickets."