T.I. has spoken publicly for the first time since his arrest last month on charges of trying to purchase machine guns and silencers. In a grainy video posted Monday on his social networking site, StreetCred.com, the rapper proclaims his innocence, plugs his upcoming album, Paper Trail, and promises his fans that "the King ain't dead."
Wearing a light-colored robe and a black stocking cap, Tip (identified onscreen as "Hip-Hop Icon") kicks off the nearly three-minute clip by strolling to a couch in the living room of his Atlanta-area mansion and directly addressing the camera about what he's been up to since a judge granted his request two weeks ago for home confinement as he awaits trial on the gun charges (see "T.I. Hard At Work On New LP, Paper Trail, While Under House Arrest").
"I know a lot of people are concerned, given the current situation, and I want to say thank you for all the prayers and support coming from all my fans and my supporters," T.I., 27, says in the video. "It's a very trying time right now, but I want to let everybody know that I plead not guilty, and I gotta stress my innocence to everyone out there who's listening. I look forward to being exonerated on all charges. And I say that with the utmost sincerity. I can't stress that enough to ya, ya dig."
The rapper (born Clifford Harris Jr.) also thanks his lawyers and the judge in the case, Magistrate Alan Baverman, for allowing him the "privilege" of being on house arrest instead of the "clear alternative." He also warns fans not to believe everything they read about the case. "Don't even believe everything you see on the news," he says. "Don't believe everything you read in the papers, ya dig that?"
With his future uncertain, given the possibility of a prison sentence, T.I. says he can't wait to get back out into the public and promises fans that he's making good use of his time. "The good thing is, man, you know, I got a lot time on my hands," he says. "Doing a lot of reading, doing a lot of writing, working on my next album. It's called Paper Trail.
"Man, we gonna get through this," he says, adding that he's abiding by all the stipulations of his home confinement, which include not consuming alcohol, submitting to round-the-clock monitoring and only having three visitors at a time, all of whom must undergo background checks. "To whom much is given, even more is required. ... God will never take you to what he can't take you through. ... So, I'm just listening to what God got to say right now. And that's what I'm doing, I'm being still. ... I'm being quiet, and I'm being still."
T.I. was released from jail two weeks ago after his October 13 arrest for trying to illegally purchase machine guns and silencers. As a convicted felon, he is not allowed to buy guns. He was arrested in a parking lot while trying to take possession of the unregistered guns from a bodyguard, who police said bought the firearms on behalf of his boss. If convicted, T.I. could face up to 10 years in federal prison.
Waving an unlit cigar and promising more messages on the site, the rapper signs off saying, "I'm getting a lot of work done, man — a lot of music, man, being recorded. But my main message is it's not over ... and the King ain't dead!"
In a message posted next to the video, T.I. thanks a number of people for their support during his home confinement, including David Banner, Common, Diddy, DJ Drama, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, Young Dro, Kanye West and the late Donda West.